Portables being constructed at relatively new Bedford high school to address overcrowding

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Concerns of overcrowding at high school in Bedford heightens
WATCH: Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford is in need of more space to accommodate the surging populations of students in the area. Alexa MacLean has more – Aug 9, 2019

A high school in Bedford that opened its doors in 2013 is adding portables to address issues caused by overcapacity.

Charles P. Allen High School (CPA) has a growing student population that’s showing no signs of slowing down, and the province says portables are a “short-term solution to an ongoing discussion.”

“The previous government when (CPA) was built didn’t build a school that was big enough for a growing community,’ said Zach Churchill, the provincial minister of education.

“We’re dealing with the realities of that now. So short-term we’re looking at portables as the only option to accommodate the student population there.”

READ MORE: ‘Overcapacity’ schools ongoing issue in Bedford, Hammonds Plains

Portable classrooms are already used at several schools that feed into Charles P. Allen High School. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

In the past few years several schools that feed into CPA have been forced to use portable classrooms. Those schools include Basinview Drive Community Elementary, Hammonds Plains Consolidated Elementary and Madeline Symonds Middle School.

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“Of course we’re having conversations on how to long-term accommodate the growing student population of Bedford,” Churchill said.

The community of Bedford West and surrounding areas are the fasted growing in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Census data from 2016 shows the communities have nearly doubled in population size over the past several years.

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Anticipating the pressure that population surge would place on classrooms isn’t a new conversation. In 2016, the now-dissolved Halifax Regional School Board presented the province with a priority list for Capital Construction Projects.

In it, an addition or alteration was recommended for Charles P. Allen to help address “continuing residential development and projected enrollment growth in this family of schools.”

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This June, the province announced a new elementary school will be constructed off Larry Uteck Boulevard that will include pre-primary to Grade 9.

READ MORE: New school to be built in Bedford, N.S., to ease enrolment pressures

One parent of a CPA student says adjusting the boundaries for the high school should be taken into consideration as a way to help remedy enrollment issues.

“The current boundaries take students from Hammonds Plains and some of those students live five minutes from Sir John A. MacDonald High School which is not at capacity. This was a foreseeable problem yet here we are about to (have) students forced into portables,” Nancie de la Chevotiere said.

MLA Kelly Regan declined an on-camera interview for the story.

In an email statement she wrote, “I’m working on this issue with Education and Early Childhood Development. They were very responsive to our concerns on the need for a new PP-9 school, and we had one announced quickly.”

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