Overcrowding in the Pembina Trails School Division is causing uncertainty for local families.
Increased enrollment at South Pointe School means 91 students at the K-8 school may be moved this fall, the division said.
Pembina Trails School Division superintendent Ted Fransen told 680 CJOB the affected students live in Richmond West and Fairfield Park, and will join students in that community.
Catchments are sometimes fluid, he said, and the South Pointe School catchment for the English program right now is just the community of South Pointe.
He said the French Immersion catchment for South Pointe School had a grandfather provision, but now that has too change to make room.
“There are some students who live in Richmond West and Fairfield Park — which is not part of South Pointe — who have been allowed to go to South Pointe so that French Immersion could be a little closer to their home,” said Fransen.
“In hindsight, we realize there’s not enough room at South Pointe for that to be sustained. We have informed the parents that the board will consider a motion to align the catchment so that South Pointe School is just serving the kids who live in South Pointe.”
He said enrollment projections aren’t a hard, fast science, which is why they’re called projections.
Fransen also said the division has twice asked for portable classrooms, but the provincial policy is to fill up nearby schools before bringing in portables.
“They have told us and they’ve told all other school divisions in the province that before they spend money on new portable classrooms, they are directing school divisions to fully utilize all available empty seats in neighbouring schools.”
Area parent Jim Smith told 680 CJOB his daughters attend South Pointe School, after already being shifted from Bonnycastle School — and one of them may now be heading to École Viscount Alexander.
“We’ve lived in the same house for 10 years, ever since our children started school, yet for some reason our children have had to change schools twice,” he said.
“You know, you do your best to provide a stable home for your children and here things are getting disrupted without any real consultation.”
Another parent, Susan, said it’s more than a one-school problem.
Her daughter goes to nearby Bairdmore School — only a kilometre away from South Pointe — and has seen that school receive an influx of students.
It’s something she says has affected the classes.
“Bairdmore does not have iPads and things like that – it’s the computer lab, and it is now gone.
“All the music, the French… all of that has been cut by at least 10 minutes to accommodate all of these additional children.”
Change affects kids differently
Winnipeg-based psychologist Dr. Syras Derksen said while moving to a new school can be challenging, the change will affect kids differently.
“Some kids will find it exciting and some children may actually find it beneficial if they’ve had some problems at their school,” he said.
“But there are vulnerable children who have more difficulty making friends, have more difficulty adapting, and it will be more difficult for those.
Overall, Derksen said it’s important parents model an ability to handle change in a healthy way for their children.
“What I’m hearing in the story is that the parents are potentially more upset than the children,” he said.
“Your children are going to look to you to see if something is OK or if something is not OK.
“What you don’t want to do is be more upset than your child … you don’t want to make it so they’re having to comfort you.”
A spokesperson for Manitoba’s education minister said the decision not to bring portable classrooms to South Pointe School was made based on the availability of more than 250 spaces at nearby schools.
There is also a plan to build a new K-8 school in Waverley West in the near future, the spokesperson added.
“It was determined that there are other options to accommodate students in the short term until the new school is built,” said the spokesperson.
“The policy surrounding the use of available space within a division is longstanding, and the school board had made the decision previously to allow these students to attend the school from outside the catchment area.”
— With files from Shane Gibson