By Robert Frank
While English schools throughout the province suffer sagging enrolment, Laval’s face the opposite challenge: They’re bursting at the seams.
The problem has for years been acute in Fabreville, where Twin Oaks School teaches 493 students—24 per cent more than the 399 youth whom it was designed to house.
“Some kids who had spent their whole school career there had to go back to the school that they were zoned for,” lamented Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (SWLSB) chair Jennifer Maccarone. “It was heartwrenching.”
The remaining students had to make do with makeshift classrooms in temporary trailers outside. However, on March 13, contractor Candev got the go-ahead from SWLSB to begin the long-overdue $8 million project to expand the building to meet the burgeoning demand.
“It’s the only English school in Quebec to get the green light to expand,” Maccarone enthused. “We’ll be adding 2,900 sq.ft. to the facility: 10 classrooms plus five kindergarten classes and a gymnasium, as well as four daycare rooms and a new library and music room.”
Heavy construction ought to be complete by August and the interior is slated to be finished by November.
“SWLSB is very fortunate to have an adept building resources director, Jérôme Dionne, because the school board would have to pay, if it incurs any cost overrun,” Maccarone said.
Children celebrated their impending freedom from the temporary trailers during a school assembly.
“They were very excited,” Maccarone said. “There will also be a formal launch in December this year.”
Other overcrowded Laval elementary schools include Terry Fox, Hillcrest Academy and Souvenir.
“They’re feeder schools for our high schools,” she said. “They’re bursting at the seams.”
“That’s also true in St. Eustache,” she added, “where we’re also seeing population growth, with a corresponding increase in enrolment.”
“Ultimately it’s not a question of numbers,” Maccarone concluded. “It’s about meeting the demands of our community and giving its children the best education possible.”
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