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Duc d’Anville to become first HRCE school with modular classroom

WATCH: Children at Duc D'anville elementary school won't be in class until the end of October, but the school will be a testing ground for a new solution to overcrowding. Alexa MacLean reports.

Families on standby to have their four-year-olds start pre-primary at Duc d’Anville Elementary in Clayton Park have just been told their wait will extend to Oct. 21.

Three portables will be brought in to accommodate the children who have registered for the program because space within the school isn’t possible.

READ MORE: Pre-primary delays carry expensive consequences for parents in Halifax

“There’s 56 students that have registered for it, there’s no space currently in the school. So, we spent the summer and into the fall looking for a suitable location,” said Doug Hadley, communications coordinator with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education.

The pre-primary program has been delayed until Oct. 21. Portables will be placed on the soccer field until the modular classroom is ready.
The pre-primary program has been delayed until Oct. 21. Portables will be placed on the soccer field until the modular classroom is ready. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Meaghan Speck is a mother of two who feels the portables will take away from outdoor space that’s already compromised due to soaring enrollment.

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“We are an over populated school and now we’re throwing in, I think it said three portables, for a pre-primary program and they’re using the field space.

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“So, we’re already over populated, we’re adding more kids – something needs to be done,” Speck said.

Duc d’Anville is the only pre-primary program currently dealing with a delay, and it will also become the first school within HRCE to have a modular classroom attached to it.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia expanding Before and After Program to improve access to pre-primary services

Hadley says the modular classroom will eventually replace the portables, with a goal to have it attached by the end of the calendar year.

“We’re going to have the specs for some classrooms constructed offsite, they’ll be transported to the school and then they’ll be assembled and they’ll be connected to the school.

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“They’ll have washrooms, they’ll have power, they’ll have all the plumbing that’s needed but there will be more of a traditional feel to those classrooms because they’ll be right connected as part of the school,” he said.

Hadley says there wasn’t a location large enough to facilitate the enrollment demand within the surrounding area – which is where the portables come into play for a temporary period of time before the modular classroom can be brought in.

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WATCH: (Aug. 15, 2019) Pre-primary delays leaving some families stressed over what to do

Pre-primary delays leaving some families stressed over what to do
Pre-primary delays leaving some families stressed over what to do

“Am I satisfied with the delay? No, but I would rather see it start late and start good, than start in September and it be a chaotic mess and a bad experience for my youngest son,” Speck said.

The expansion of the pre-primary program has added to the challenge of overcrowding in schools.

“We have currently close to 40 portable classrooms – that we call them – located around the region. They’re great for learning, but ideally there would not be a need for them. So, it’s a challenge for us,” Hadley said.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia to further expand pre-primary for 4-year-olds

Speck says the challenges created by adding pre-primary to schools already crowded schools should have been addressed before the roll out of the program began.

“I think they need to completely redo their plan. These modular classrooms and stuff like that, this should have been started when the program was put into place,” she said.

Hadley says while Duc d’Anville is the only school within HRCE currently slated to have a modular classroom added, other schools may see them moving forward.

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“They can be a much more permanent long-term solution, but also not tie your hands … if you need to change, if the population changes,” he said.