February 15, 2017 6:02 pm
Updated: February 16, 2017 7:33 am

Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools hopes to replace crowded St. Frances School

WATCH: St. Frances Cree language program popular but has the school in need of an overhaul.

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St. Frances School’s enrolment has grown by roughly 300 per cent since 2009.

The elementary school that offers Saskatoon’s Catholic Cree bilingual program is identified as the division’s top priority for government funding in 2018-19 due to its increased enrolment in an almost 70-year-old building.

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When St. Frances School started offering the language program in 2009, its enrolment stood at 133. By the start of the current school year it had increased to 543, with students attending from more than 50 Saskatoon neighbourhoods.

“It’s really a perfect storm of building condition and overcrowding,” Gordon Martell, a Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools superintendent, said in an interview Tuesday.

“The condition of the facility isn’t conducive to a renovation, we believe that a new build would be the best route forward.”

The enrolment increase has forced administrators to make do with the space they have. Educators work with students at breakout areas in the hallways, while a former custodial room has been converted to a study and storage space.

In the gymnasium students contend with a low ceiling that makes hosting basketball and volleyball games almost impossible. Outside, children spend their recesses playing in a yard that’s less than half an acre in size.

“We just continue to work together in a solution oriented way to better meet the needs of our kids with the facility challenges that exist,” St. Frances principal Darren Fradette said.

“We do a good job of using the space that we have as best as possible.”

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The school division must submit its applications for major capital project funding a year before the province’s budget is approved and released. In a statement, Saskatchewan Education Minister Don Morgan said that “St. Frances, like all capital requests, will be considered for funding as part of the budget process.”

“Projects are addressed as funding becomes available,” Morgan’s statement read.

St. Frances is projected to have more than 600 students on its roll call by the start of next school year.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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