From left, trustee John Shea, and Avalon Public School parent council co-chairs Bill Wackley and Wally Peters in front of several of the many portables Avalon Public School is forced to put students in due to overcrowding. The school hoped that a second Avalon school would be built, but no funding was allocated in a Jan. 14 announcement.
While the city’s public school board received $47.9 million dollars in construction funding on Jan. 14, Orléans didn’t receive a penny.
A second Avalon school, needed to take on the overflow of students currently packed into Avalon Public School, is second on the priority list of new schools, said trustee John Shea.
While the first one on the list, an elementary school in north Kanata, was approved, the rest of the funding went towards permanent additions at exiting schools.
Mutchmor Public, South March Public, Earl of March Secondary and Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary will all have permanent expansions built.
“Our needs are just as great as they are in the west end,” Shea said. “Avalon in particular is very full. We’re eventually going to have to start looking at solutions that will split neighbourhood children away from their friends.”
He said all parents should be disappointed that Avalon did not receive any funding.
“I expected that Avalon would get funding before a number of the renovations that were announced,” Shea said.
Avalon Public School is located south of Innes Road, and opened in 2008 to accommodate growth in the area. With even more housing being built today, the number of students has rapidly increased.
Avalon has added portables to accommodate the overflow of students and will add even more in September, Shea said.
In the past, parents have voiced displeasure that despite a strong staff, the school doesn’t have the space to run programs like daily physical education.
“Avalon is currently well over it's designed capacity and this capacity issue is only going to get worse with the introduction of full-day kindergarten,” said Avalon Public School parent council co-chair Wally Peters.
Both Peters and Shea expressed concern that because of the large amount of funding announced Jan. 14 and the current financial climate, there may not be more funding available in the near future.
“In terms of the board itself, it was very good news in terms of a dollar amount,” Shea said. “My concern is because it’s so big, we won’t see anything for quite a while. So two concerns: that Avalon was not included, and that it could be excluded for quite a while.”
Peters said he was also disappointed that none of the funding dollars were allocated to the east end.
Next year, the public board may have to redirect students or grades from within Avalon’s current boundaries to different schools, but Shea said trustees will “cross that bridge when we get to it.”
With a year-and-a-half timeline to build a new school, it means there won’t be any more space when full-day kindergarten is rolled out at Avalon in 2014.
“That’s when the perfect storm happens,” Shea said. “The building has a finite capacity.”