EDMONTON - Two new schools that are already full of students won't get the six modular classrooms they requested to expand space this fall, Alberta Education confirmed Wednesday.
Esther Starkman School in the Terwillegar area and Johnny Bright School in Rutherford opened in September 2010 and were built to hold 850 students each. However, rapid housing development in southwest Edmonton funnelled far more students than expected into the elementary/junior high schools. The schools recently added two modular classrooms each to boost capacity to 900. However, enrolment is expected to hit about 1,000 this fall at both schools.
The situation prompted Edmonton Public School officials to submit a request in October asking for provincial money to move a dozen portable classrooms from seven other schools to Esther Starkman and Johnny Bright, said Edmonton Public Schools spokeswoman Jane Sterling. The district hoped to set up six portable classrooms beside each school this September. Unlike the modular classrooms, the portables are not attached to the schools.
"That was to deal with the enrolment growth that was occurring at an extreme rate," Sterling said.
However, the district won't get provincial funding for the move, said Alberta Education spokesman Tim Chamberlin.
"Edmonton Public Schools was approved for two new modular classrooms for A. Blair McPherson school and their request for funding to relocate six existing modular classrooms for Esther Starkman and Johnny Bright was not approved," he said.
The province reviewed requests for more than 300 modular classrooms across the province, Chamberlin said. The government funded 47 requests for new modulars and 20 requests to move existing modulars, he said.
Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk said the government recently approved the last batch of modular classrooms for the 2012-13 budget cycle. Those include modulars that will go to four schools in Edmonton — one for St. Charles Catholic elementary school and two each for A. Blair McPherson elementary/junior high, Monsignor William Irwin Catholic elementary and Monsignor Fee Otterson.
"We try to get them there before the school year (in September)," Lukaszuk said.
Parents, school and government officials were scheduled to meet Wednesday night at Esther Starkman School to talk about how to accommodate the growing number of students there. Options include busing some grades to other schools, increasing class sizes and changing school boundaries to shrink the attendance area.
Catholic school trustees are grappling with similar enrolment issues at one of the new K-9 schools in The Hamptons neighbourhood in west Edmonton.
Trustees voted this week to send junior high students from Sister Annata Brockman School to H.E. Beriault Junior High School in September.
Edmonton Journal, Wed Mar 21 2012
Byline: Andrea Sands