On Thursday Jan 25th, École Sage Creek School (ÉSCS) held an important information evening at which time Acting Superintendent Christian Michalik shared important information related to long term planning that has been developed and refined since 2007 to address growth in Sage Creek.
Some of the information shared at Thursday's meeting included:
Although ÉSCS's official capacity is 600, our September enrolment was 627 students.
As of January 2018, enrolment projections for our school are:
2018 – 739 students
2019 – 831 students
2022 – 1035 students
2027 – 1274 students
The projections clearly demonstrate that a second K-8 school is required in Sage Creek. The original Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) plan shared with the provincial government has always been to have two K-8 schools in Sage Creek. Following the approach used in all of our other LRSD schools, each school would be single track: one school would offer the English program while the other would offer the French Immersion program. Because initial research demonstrated (and ongoing patterns of enrolment show) that the community want to access both language programs equally, a decision was made that the first school in Sage Creek would temporarily be dual-track school (offering both the English and French Immersion programs) until the second school was built.
What has the LRSD been doing about the projections?
The LRSD has shared enrolment projections with the provincial government (since 2007) and submitted (and reiterated to government) an official request for a second K-8 school since September 2013. The government has not yet approved the building of a second K-8 school in Sage Creek.
The LRSD has requested 4 portable classrooms (4 is the maximum number of portables that can be accommodated on the school site). The government has denied the requests for portable classrooms. The LRSD will continue to advocate for our community by reiterating to government the need for portable classrooms for ÉSCS for September 2018.
The provincial government makes the decisions regarding the building of new schools and the allocation of portable classrooms.
What is the plan for next year?
To accommodate the projected 739 students, we will maximize space by allowing higher than average class sizes and, in addition to using the Art & Science room as classrooms, we will also require 2 more classrooms. As such, we need a minimum of 2 portable classrooms.
What is the plan for following years?
To manage the growth, the LRSD must establish a yearly enrolment limit in our current school for each of the following school years until a new school is built. This means not all students living in Sage Creek will be able to attend our school. Because a second school (and portables in the interim) have not yet been approved by the provincial government, starting in September 2018, the LRSD may have no choice but to transport a certain number of students living in Sage Creek to alternative schools.
Please note that M. Michalik has confirmed that students currently attending our school will NOT be removed from our school to be transported to other schools. M. Michalik has also confirmed that, to keep families together, pre-school aged siblings of current students will be accepted into our current school and will not be transported to other schools.
Although this is great news for our current families, this is very disappointing news for many of the families in Sage Creek whose children do not yet attend our school. Once our current families' younger siblings are accepted into Kindergarten, depending on the enrolment limit, and the number of current families' siblings, the remaining openings will then be filled. A "First-Come, First-Served basis" was discussed at the meeting however the School Administration, Superintendent's Team and the School Board will be discussing other suggestions brought forward at the meeting.
To which schools would Sage Creek students (not attending ÉSCS) be bussed?
The only French Immersion schools with enough available classroom spaces are École Provencher (K-3) and École Henri-Bergeron (4-8)
The English program K-8 schools with enough available classroom spaces not being considered to accommodate overcrowding pressures in other parts of the LRSD are: Victor Wyatt School, Minnetonka School, Nordale School, and Marion School. in the coming weeks, a decision will be made regarding which is the most viable option.
Some questions that were asked and answered at the meeting:
While waiting for the second school to be built, to accommodate population growth, is it possible that our current school changes from dual track, to single track (becoming only English or only French Immersion) while the other program is moved to another school? Mr. Michalik answered that they considered the option and it is not viable given the patterns of enrolment in Sage Creek.
While waiting for the second school to be built, to accommodate population growth, is it possible that our current school changes from K-8 to K-6 or K-5? Mr. Michalik answered that they considered the option and it is not viable given the contrast in enrolment in early and middle years and the available spaces in the remaining K-8 schools in LRSD.
Why wasn't the school built to accommodate 800 students? The LRSD plan (shared with the government since 2007) has always been to have 2 schools each with a capacity for 600 students. If our current school had been built for 800 students, we still would require another smaller school for 400 extra students and created an inequity in the community going forward.
Why not redraw boundaries? If new boundaries were drawn, we still could not accommodate all students and current students attending ÉSCS would have to be moved to other schools. The LRSD is committed to keeping current families at the school and keeping cohorts of students together from the point they enter a school.
What can be done? Get involved. Share your thoughts with your MLA and the provincial government. MLA Andrew Smith was in attendance, addressed the audience and encouraged families to email him directly at email@example.com to share their thoughts and concerns. Lets continue to dialogue as a community of families, educators and decision makers to understand the importance of portable classrooms in the immediate-term and the importance of a second school in Sage Creek in the short-term. This dialogue also has to acknowledge the very similar pressures being felt in other parts of the LRSD and the city.
PLEASE NOTE: In the very near future, you will be receiving more information from your PAC, sharing specifically what you can do related to ÉSCS receiving portable classrooms for September 2018 as well as suggesting what you can do related to the approval of a second K-8 school in Sage Creek.
What was the rationale for the government declining the request for portables? Government's position is that the LRSD has spaces in other schools and that bussing Sage Creek students to other schools to fill these spaces is the most viable option.
What more can you do:
To help us better plan for the coming years, if you DO NOT currently have a child at École Sage Creek School, and have pre-school aged children not yet attending school, please fill out this important survey by clicking here.
If you DO currently have a child at École Sage Creek School, and have pre-school aged children not yet attending school, please fill out this important survey by clicking here.
Whether you currently have children at ÉSCS or not, if you have children born in 2013 (who will be starting Kindergarten this September), in addition to filling out the survey in the previous paragraphs, please also click here for more information related to our upcoming Kindergarten Information Evenings and to RSVP to one of the 2 Kindergarten Information Evenings.
Stay tuned as you will be receiving more information as it becomes available. By using the email address submitted in the previous surveys, our PAC will contact you to share strategies that you could use to get involved and share your thoughts.
Please encourage your friends and neighbours in Sage Creek to visit our website.