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Boundary changes make room for public school district growth

Grande Prairie Public School Division didn’t expect to see any enrolment growth this year, but has been pleasantly surprised to see a few more students in the hallways. Superintendent Sandy McDonald says they budgeted conservatively because of the economy.

“At this point, [we’re] about 70 students over what we projected and I think we’ll end up somewhere in that range. I know we’ve got some new students and I expect there are some families that may be leaving so there’s a little bit of daily fluctuation, but I expect we’ll end close to one per cent enrolment growth.”

The school district opened two new schools in Pinnacle and Riverstone this year. Since they didn’t know how many students to expect, that’s where most of the numbers over projection were seen. Otherwise, the most growth was seen in the high school grades. McDonald says both Isabel Campbell in Pinnacle and Riverstone School still have space to grow.

“The government did a very good job with planning and what they allocated us for school size, so the projects that we have, these schools, they’ve got a little bit of room now, but they’ll be full in a few years.”

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The recent changes to boundaries in the Grande Public School District has given almost all of their schools some breathing room. McDonald says the only school still feeling major pressure is Charles Spencer.

“I won’t say that it’s completely jam packed, but in terms of relative enrolment pressures, Charles Spencer this year would be the highest. We also have the addition of eight permanent modulars as one of the top three [capital] priorities.”

The high school opened in 2014 with eight modulars. To help, students living in Riverstone and those east of Resources Road will now attend the Composite High School. The district has also been pushing hard for a replacement for the Comp, which is one of 50 projects on the province’s sunshine list.

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