School division pushing for White City high school as enrolment rises

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Schools are a cornerstone in a growing community with young families. That said -- communities in the Highway 1 corridor may soon start seeing capacity issues at their high schools. David Baxter has more on the plan to prevent that from happening – Aug 17, 2017

White City, Sask. is growing quickly thanks to an influx of young families. The town has two elementary schools: École White City and Emerald Ridge School. However, there is no high school in this part of the Highway 1 Corridor.

“We first suggested that we would like to see the construction of a new school in 2013,” Prairie Valley School Division (PVSD) education director Ben Grebinski said.

Originally, the division wanted to open a high school in White City in 2017. That won’t happen, but the school is one of PVSD’s top priorities.

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The only high school that serves White City, Balgonie, Pilot Butte, and the rest of the corridor is Greenall School in Balgonie.

The population growth that made a second elementary school necessary in White City did slow, Grebinski said. However, the push for a new high school is becoming more aggressive.

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“It does exceed capacity of 100 per cent, but we are not faced with any critical space issues with respect to learning stations or classrooms,” Grebinski said.

PVSD has spent $3.2 million over the past six years modernizing Greenall School. This includes renovations in the gymnasium as well as improvements to the practical and applied arts, such as the commercial cooking program.

The projected enrolment at Greenall for the coming school year is 672 students. That number is projected to climb to 768 in the 2021 school year.

The division and the Ministry of Education are in discussion about facility needs. Assistant Deputy Education Minister Donna Johnson said they need to determine when the time is right to build.

“When you look at the demographics of the province, it’s the elementary age students that are growing rapidly,” she explained.

“But clearly at some point those elementary aged kids are going to go into high school.”

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Johnson added that it is too early to tell when the next round of new schools in the province will be announced. Nine new joint-use schools are opening between Regina, Saskatoon, Warman and Martensville in September.

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Mayor Bruce Evans has big plans for a potential high school in the White City’s expansion plan. He envisions a school site on the currently vacant south side of Bettridge Road.

It may be a field right now, but in the next decade it could become the centre of White City. The town has ambitious expansion plans, and for good reason.

“We have a projected population, including Pilot Butte, White City, and the RM, of up to 35,000 people in the next ten to 15 years,” Evans said.

Town administration has been working with PVSD and the ministry on the idea of a joint-use school, but with a different vision than the public/Catholic split at the soon-to-open joint-use schools.

“The town would provide some capital for the recreation component of the school, so we could have a facility that would be used by all of the people in the town, not just for the high school students,” Evans explained.

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