École Morden Middle School was expecting their two new portables to be ready by the end of January after having a number of delays in the process. Much to their surprise, the portables were ready a few weeks earlier than initially expected.
"We are really pleased to have those open and ready to go for kids now, and those kids are moving in there as we speak," says Superintendent Stephen Ross.
The portable had to first arrive from another location, and then be completely renovated to meet building safety standards. Ross says local contractors worked very hard to get them ready so the kids could have the classroom space they need.
Although exciting, this is just the beginning of the extra space needs that the Western School Division is expecting as Morden continues to grow in all areas. Right now there are four portables at Minnewasta School, seven at Maple Leaf School, and three at École Morden Middle School.
"In the last calendar year from January to January we've gained 119 students, so that's the equivalent of basically five classrooms of kids," he says.
The division did request an emergency portable for Maple Leaf in December, but the province has none to spare at the moment.
Ross notes, "they have provided some alternatives the board's considering . . . because as the schools have filled up, it's really hard to program for all these different kids when there isn't space."
He says the government has been very helpful in trying to find alternatives, but they will keep advocating for a new school.
"We're really hoping for that school announcement at some point in time here. We think that's needed in our community, and the portables are a great band-aid fix - short-term - but they're not really a long-term fix."
Ross adds that the board was initially concerned that having too many students in a single classroom would impact their provincial academic assessments, but they are pleased that the staff and students have been coping well and that grades are not falling.