Two new schools opened in Lakeview neighbourhood, highlight need for more capacity

The Argyle and Ecole St. Pius X elementary schools saw their grand opening Monday morning.

The schools are located in the same shared joint-use facility in the Regina Lakeview neighbourhood and have saw an investment from the Government of Saskatchewan of over $44 million.

The joint-use facility replaces the two former schools: Argyle, built in 1950, and Ecole St. Pius X, made in 1953.

Regina Board of Education Chairperson Sarah Cummings Truszkowski said the realization of this project is several decades in the making, beginning with a promise to the community in 2009.

The new facility will be approximately 11,050 square metres, roughly the size of the playing surface of Mosaic Stadium. It includes a 51-space child care centre, as well as outdoor learning areas, and a mini-gym that can be used by both schools and for community events.

Cummings Truszkowski said while it’s great to have the facility open, Argyle currently has 479 students enrolled, already at its capacity, something normal for schools in the division.

“They (schools) often open, and they are full already. We are trying to do this very quickly to get these schools built. In the southeast end of the city, we need the schools now, and it’s going to take several years.”

Cummings Truszkowski said when a school is at capacity, it affects teachers and the students.

“The learning in schools when its cramped it’s hard on teachers because their classrooms are full, and it is hard on the kids too because the people-teacher ratio is higher than we’d like it to be, so kids are not getting the staff with them as much as they could.”

Regina Catholic Board of Education Chairperson Shauna Weninger said it also affects the mental health of teachers and students.

“As you reach capacity and go beyond capacity in some places where we are over 100 per cent capacity, you’re looking at the mental health and well-being of your students and your staff when you are working under those situations,” she said. “We need to be able to provide proper resources to our staff to ensure that they can cope with the numbers within their classrooms, and sometimes resourcing comes down to space, not just funding.”

Weninger noted that Ecole St. Pius X is in a better spot than its counterpart, with 320 students enrolled and a capacity for around 200 more.

“We are in a very comfortable position right now. As a result of pressures from other areas within the city, that could potentially increase our numbers at St. Pius in the coming years.”

She said while they have room for now, both school divisions will need more room.

“We are also working on improving efficiencies on how we approve school buildings and how we predict enrollment to ensure that we are meeting those needs of communities more quickly as opposed to waiting until communities are in crisis, as we’ve seen in spaces like Harbour Landing, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha School,” she said.

“We are definitely addressing how we can move those along more quickly, but it takes a lot of advocacy, and it takes partnerships with both the City of Regina, the Ministry of Education, and both school divisions,” she added.

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