School division asking for a new middle school for Neepawa
- Published on Thursday, November 1, 2012
By: Kate Jackman-Atkinson
With growing enrollment and a provincial cap on class sizes, the Beautiful Plains School Division (BPSD) is looking to build a new middle school in Neepawa.
Next Monday, the division will host a public meeting to discuss the need for additional space facing Neepawa’s schools.
Superintendent Jason Young explains that every August, the division submits a five-year capital plan to the provincial Public Schools Finance Board. This plan includes any major projects, such as major renovations, new construction or additions, for which the division is seeking financing from the province.
The projects are ranked by the division in order of importance and this year, a new middle school for Neepawa topped the list. He explained that the province considers requests made by all school divisions and there are no guarantees that any of the BPSD’s requests will be approved.
The division is facing enrollment pressure from both local and provincial factors. Young explains, “The request for a new school is based on the growing enrolment in our Neepawa schools. We are up approximately 70 students from this time last year and we are continuing to see steady growth.”
This is compounded by provincial legislation setting a maximum class size of 20 students for Kindergarten to Grade 3. School divisions have been given five years to meet this, however, in order to comply with this today, the BPSD needs three additional classrooms at Hazel M. Kellington. Within two years, Yound said that they anticipate they will need an additional seven to 10 classrooms for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3.
Young adds that the division’s Neepawa schools are approaching capacity and there is minimal room for expansion.
While it is still a preliminary proposal, Young explains that the division’s initial thoughts are that the new school will be a middle school, having students in grades 5 to 8. This would free up space in both HMK and NACI. The division is requesting that financing for the new school be approved by the province this year, allowing the division to begin the multi-year process of choosing a location and designing the school.
At this time, it’s not known what a school would cost but Young said, “If a new school were approved, it would be completely funded by the province unless a decision was made to add some component outside the scope of the basic project.”
It’s unclear what a new school in Neepawa would mean for two of the division’s smaller elementary schools, J.M. Young in Eden and Brookdale Elementary, both of which are experiencing enrolment well below their capacity. Young said that these questions and concerns would be discussed at the Nov. 5 public meeting.