'We can't take any more:' Board looking at new ways to handle overcrowded Bedford schools
With Basinview Drive over capacity and other schools in the C.P. Allen family feeling the pressure, the Halifax school board is looking for short-term solutions.
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A Bedford parent and school advocate is hoping to see concrete plans for addressing overcrowding at Basinview Drive, where things have snowballed into a “safety issue.”
Stephanie Pitcher, chair of the School Advisory Council (SAC) with three kids at Basinview Drive Community School, said in an interview she was happy to see the Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) follow through with a request for solutions that came out of a recent community meeting.
“We’re well over the capacity for the school, I think we’re at 106 per cent. It’s really crowded and it’s not just in the classroom; when classes are changing it’s chaotic,” Pitcher said.
The HRSB passed a motion Wednesday asking the superintendent to come back with a report on interim options for the Charles P. Allen family of schools to handle overcrowding.
Although there is now a petition going around for a new elementary school in the area, Pitcher said even if approved soon that would take years before any doors opened -- and short-term solutions like moving the Grade 6s to Rocky Lake Junior High, or holding a boundary review, should be considered.
“It’s not just Basinview, I know in the C.P. Allen family of schools many are over capacity too. It’s the area and it’s growing,” Pitcher said.
Pitcher said that with roughly 680 students and 27 classes, even though Basinview only has 25 classrooms, the school’s had to divide their art room into class space and put some classes into outdoor portables as well -- and there are only two sets of bathrooms in the building.
For kids with learning exceptionalities or disorders overcrowding can lead to anxiety, Pitcher said, plus many classes are over their caps. The pick-up/drop-off zone has “become a safety issue because there are so many students,” she added.
Although the issue has been getting worse over the past few years, Pitcher said things have now reached a tipping point and looking at the student projections for the coming years, there’s simply no room for the 100 new primary students that come in each fall.
“We can’t take any more,” Pitcher said.