Grand Erie boundary review means some students will have to travel farther to get to school
Some schools in Brant and Norfolk Counties are bursting at the seams, operating at nearly double their intended capacity – and for some families, that’s going to mean big changes this fall.
The Grand Erie District School Board has completed a boundary review that will see around 550 students move schools come September.
The board says the move is needed to relieve pressure in the fast-growing communities of Brantford East, Waterford and Paris.
KIDS WILL BE ‘SHIPPED OUT OF TOWN’, SAYS PARENT
Brandon Wagenaar’s two children are among those who will need to switch schools.
“All the kids in our subdivision currently walk to school,” Wagenaar said. “They are now being told that they are now going to be placed on a bus and shipped out of town to make room for a new subdivision at the north end of town for families that aren’t even here yet.”
Wagenaar’s subdivision sits only a few hundred metres away from Waterford Public School, which is currently at 141 per cent capacity and utilizing seven portable classrooms.
But come fall, the board says his family will no longer live in the boundary of that school and must attend Bloomsburg Public School instead – about 6 km away.
“They are taking 55 kids who weren’t on a bus and now putting them on a bus,” Wagenaar said.
The boundary review will also impact around 175 students at Woodman-Cainsville School in Brantford, who will be redirected to Branlyn Community School.
New boundaries take effect in September, but the problem is not fully solved.
Woodman-Cainsville will lose its seven portables and start the year just under capacity, but Boston Public School will jump to 111 per cent capacity and gain two portables.
“It will be sad to lose so many families, however, I highly respect the decision that needs to be made because the school is much beyond its capacity,” one parent told CTV News.
Another parent told CTV News her daughter has had to change classes a few times because of the influx of students, but is lucky that this rezoning will not impact her daughter’s learning.
“She absolutely loves going to school here, but she did have to change classes a couple of times because of the influx of students,” said Amaya Teixeria, whose 6-year-old daughter will remain at her current school.
The board admits re-location wasn’t their first choice either, but it was a necessary first step.
“We had applied to the ministry for capital funding to build additions at a school. But those additions got denied when there's excess capacity in some of the neighbouring schools,” Dave Smouter, communications manager with the Grand Erie District School Board said.
As for why some schools will still have portable despite the boundary changes, Jack Ammendolia, who works as a boundary review consultant, said receiving schools may only have a little bit of capacity.
“The reality today is that sometimes you're put in a situation where the receiving school, let’s say, might have only a little bit of capacity and might need a portable as well,” Ammendolia said.
The Ministry of Education told CTV News they welcome the board to apply for that capital funding again once the annual grant window opens.