Big Times In The Suncatch

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Portable classrooms may be the only immediate option to alleviate the need for space in Western School Division (WSD).

Morden residents packed out the Ecole Morden Middle School gymnasium Monday to hear options in addressing the space issue.

WSD Board Chair Brian Fransen notes there has been steady growth in the student population for the past year, however the last new school was finished in 1990, nearly 30 years ago. Since then they've seen 25 percent more students, or 453 additional people. Current student population numbers hover around 1810. By the 2022-23 school year that number is expected to be closer to 2256.

While the board and senior admin has worked with government for many years, advocating for a new school, they felt it was time to share an update with the public and "raise the voice of the community and give them facts in terms of what the space needs are."

"There's a lot of energy in the room," Fransen says.

wsd1Board members say they will continue to lobby government but a new school announcement likely won't happen until at least 2021.

Some wondered if the local community could raise capital for a new facility, however, Fransen notes all changes in schools need to be approved by the Public Schools Finance Board.

In the short-term, Fransen says they're meeting with the Finance Board face-to-face to lobby for two additional portables as previous requests for more portable classrooms were denied.

He notes all the schools in Morden have had, or currently have, portable classrooms to compensate for the growth in the student population. Computer labs have been converted into classrooms while some classes have been held in the library due to lack of space.

"We will have to be filling our school yards with portables," Fransen says. "If we need to use music space and library space for classrooms, it will definately be modified... it's not what we want to do at all, but we need space."

WSD is hoping the public, armed with these facts, will be able to lobby government as well, sharing their stories and the need for space.


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