New francophone elementary school in Moncton nears capacity days before opening

Click to play video: 'Francophone school district requests more funding as enrollment increases'
Francophone school district requests more funding as enrollment increases
A brand new elementary school in New Brunswick is already nearing capacity before its opening day. The Francophone South School District is asking the provincial government for funding to build more French schools as their current infrastructure is continuously being pushed to its limits. – Sep 3, 2023

École Claudette-Bradshaw Elementary School, the newest addition to the Francophone South District’s 38 schools, will open its doors to students for the first time on Tuesday.

According to Monique Boudreau, the district’s superintendent, 570 of the 630 spots for students were already spoken for as of Friday — and enrollments were still coming in.

“They say build it and they will come and we’ve been seeing that in all the schools that we’ve been opening,” Boudreau said in an interview.

She said parents of students who are eligible for enrollment in both the anglophone and francophone school districts will transfer their children from English to French school once a French school is built in their neighbourhood, causing brand new schools to fill up quickly.

She said Samuel-de-Champlain School in Saint John also filled up as soon as it opened.

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That school, along with École Sainte-Anne in Fredericton and École St-Henri in Moncton, needs portable classrooms to accommodate student overflow this year.

She said immigration, particularly to the Moncton region, is also driving higher enrollment numbers.

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“The total number of students attending schools (in the district) has increased by 10 per cent compared to last year,” she said.

École Claudette-Bradshaw is part of a complex that also houses the new site for École le Mascaret Middle School, which opened in January 2022.

Some students from École le Sommet and Moncton’s École Champlain attend the new location for Mascaret, allowing the district to get rid of the portable classrooms that were being used at the two schools.

The new placement of the middle school has created more space for École l’Odyssée High School, as it can now expand into the former École le Mascaret building.

She said the district sees a need for new French schools in Miramichi, in Saint John, as well as in Riverview, and has been asking the government for funding for these projects for years.

“We know that there are lots of French students who choose an English school because Ecole Sainte-Bernadette is too far. That’s why we’d like a new school in Riverview,” she said.

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École Sainte-Bernadette is an elementary school in Moncton’s West End, the nearest francophone school to Riverview.

“We really need the government to step up and give us the funding so we can start planning and building those new schools,” she said.

In a written statement sent to Global News on Friday, a representative for the Department of Education said the department “is aware of the substantial increase in enrolment in anticipation of the school year and is in communication with school districts, including the District scolaire francophone-Sud, about the enrolment growth pressures they are experiencing.”

The statement read that enrollment growth was a factor in determining which requested new schools received funding and that the department “continues to work closely with school district leaders to ensure that all students receive quality learning and services that meet their needs.”

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