Bursting at the seams: New school in Halifax region already facing overcrowding

Click to play video: 'New Halifax-area school needs modular classrooms already'
New Halifax-area school needs modular classrooms already
WATCH: Parents at a Bedford, N.S. school are raising concerns, after it was revealed new modular classrooms will be added to the newly-built school. Amber Fryday reports. – Apr 17, 2024

Parents at a Halifax-area school are surprised to hear that the newly-built facility is already looking to install modular classrooms.

On Monday, families of West Bedford School received a letter from the Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) about some “exciting” news.

“The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has approved the addition of two new modular classroom structures. We expect they will be ready to welcome students in the fall,” the letter reads.

“Modular additions are a group of classroom units connected by common hallways and include washrooms. Each classroom is equipped with heating, ventilation, and technology. They allow us to respond to enrolment growth quickly, and provide safe, comfortable learning spaces for students and staff.”

Each structure will have six classrooms and “support enrolment pressures,” according to HRCE.

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All this — and the school hasn’t been open for a year.

“It’s not ideal, but, the community’s pretty, pretty big so far already,” said parent, Ryan Young, who has three children who attend the school in Grades 5, 3 and primary.

“I know the school’s already over capacity, so it’s something I think we’re going to have to deal with in the short term. Hopefully, there’s a better solution going forward in the long term.”

The pre-primary to Grade 8 school opened up to students in September 2023, after years of planning and amid exponential growth in the area. A new high school was also built and opened at the same time.

Click to play video: 'Bedford parents concerned after new school boundaries excludes neighbourhoods'
Bedford parents concerned after new school boundaries excludes neighbourhoods

According to HRCE’s dashboard, West Bedford has 1,251 students enrolled in the 2023-24 year.

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Rui Fan, who has a daughter in Grade 2 at the school, sees the addition of modular classrooms as unavoidable.

“If we need more rooms for kids, I think, yeah it’s a good idea,” he said. “Someone told us it’s overloaded for for the kids. So I think more space for them? That’s better.”

Liberal MLA Braedon Clark, who represents the area, says keeping up with population growth has been challenging. He adds that he’d like to see the province take action and build yet another school in the area.

“I’m hoping that we’re going to see movement on that very soon because obviously it takes a few years to get a school going,” he said.

Otherwise, he worries about the impacts of expansion and population growth on the students.

“There’s no room for them to play soccer. There’s no room for them to kind of run around and be kids — be little kids,” he said.

“And that’s such an important part of their school day is activity and play and having fun so I think the younger kids in particular are having a hard time with it and its having a detrimental impact on them.”

Global News reached out to the province for comment, but did not receive a response by deadline.

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Last month, HRCE told Global News student enrolment has increased by more than 8,100 students in the past five years.

A spokesperson said that five new schools and 141 modular classrooms — along with upgrades to existing infrastructure — have been introduced to the Halifax area in the last six years.

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia Teachers Union president, Ryan Lutes, noted that new schools that are being built “are pretty much overcrowded on day one.”

HRCE says preparations on the West Bedford School site for the modular units will start in the next few weeks.

— with files from Global News’ Amber Fryday 

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