Whitehorse Daily Star

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MULTI-PRONGED APPROACHES – Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee says there is no one set of solutions to the problem of school overcrowding.

Government to look for portables again

The government will be issuing a tender for portables later this month to ease some of the overcrowding in Whitehorse schools.

By Palak Mangat on November 6, 2018

The government will be issuing a tender for portables later this month to ease some of the overcrowding in Whitehorse schools.

The measure comes after weeks of the Education minister being grilled about the issue in the legislature.

As recently as Monday, Tracy-Anne McPhee alluded to possible solutions, saying there were those the minister characterized as short, mid and long-term plans to address the capacity concerns.

Late this morning, a spokesperson with the Department of Highways and Public Works (HPW) confirmed that a tender will be out around mid-November. That would be in time for the Dec. 31 deadline as suggested by a school council in a February letter addressed to the minister.

McPhee noted that the specific ask before the department by the Golden Horn Elementary School council asking that there be portables at the site come next year was a mid-term solution.

The school is one of two sites that had waiting lists to accommodate students this year, reaching as high as 10 at points in October.

As referenced in the legislature earlier that month by the Yukon Party and confirmed by a spokesperson for the council, the group had written to the department requesting that a tender be put out for portables by the end of this year.

While that tender will be out by then, it’s unclear right now whether that means the school will get its hands on it in time for the school year.

HPW’s Oshea Jephson confirmed early this afternoon that the tender will be for one portable.

If it falls within budget, the department may request a second portable. The cost allocated for the tender is still being determined, and the open tender is set to close in mid-December.

The portable itself is to be delivered to the territory by the end of this fiscal year (so during March-April of 2019), after which the government will be able to decide where to place it.

The government had initially put out a tender looking for a portable last April for Golden Horn, but there were no takers. McPhee later told the legislature there are no portables available in western Canada.

Meanwhile, two schools in particular were referenced Monday. Holy Family and Jack Hulland Elementary School sat at 96 and 83 per cent maximum capacity, respectively, as of Oct. 18.

Those figures were from a cabinet spokesperson last month, who also noted that the department was looking to add portables to some schools.

The statement also made reference to a 10-year capital plan under development that would look at overcrowding schools.

“I think it is critical to address this issue with respect to a long-term plan that will deal with schools and work with school communities in the short term, the medium term and the long term,” McPhee told the legislature Monday.

“There is no one set of solutions to this problem.”

Speaking to reporters shortly after question period, the minister elaborated on some of the other possibilities.

Short-term solutions may involve simply repurposing some spaces, such as having computer and other equipment on mobile carts rather than a separate designated space or classroom specifically for it.

Mid-term solutions can include the same reimagining of some areas, but encompass renovations to spaces to split them into two (along with looking for portables).

Longer-term options include newer spaces altogether.

Comments (9)

Up 5 Down 2

Joseum Wales on Nov 10, 2018 at 12:12 pm

The city is reworking the OCP and wants to remove obstacles to densification and infilling. People may not like it but the city wants higher densities.

This may mean more portables for Golden Horn and other schools.

Up 4 Down 7

Atom on Nov 9, 2018 at 11:00 am

No doubt you are Jayne w....nimbys tend to forget they hold the same rights as anyone.
GH elementary can get an addition for space and everything will be ok. It's called development... I know that's an inconvenient (bad) word for you nimby types.

Up 8 Down 2

Tater on Nov 8, 2018 at 4:47 pm

We all have to remember that any contractor will have to deal with HPW who are constipated on bureaucracy.

Up 18 Down 2

Portables are not complex on Nov 7, 2018 at 2:42 pm

Solution to FH--put some of the kids in their proper catchment areas and fill up PC. Portables at elem. schools should not be this complicated....

Up 22 Down 2

GC on Nov 6, 2018 at 8:21 pm

It was remarkably poor planning/foresight that the new FHC collins was built where it was and the size it was (too small). What would have been the incremental cost to upsize it to meet expected growth and too have taken the time to build it where it would have met projected growth needs better?

Up 6 Down 2

Copper South on Nov 6, 2018 at 5:46 pm

The land that was tagged for a school was turned into three residential lots and have been developed already.

Up 27 Down 3

BnR on Nov 6, 2018 at 4:57 pm

The millions to be spent on the new French only school will not help the overcrowding issue one iota.

Up 18 Down 3

Jayne W on Nov 6, 2018 at 4:17 pm

I think I am confused. There is over crowding at Golden Horn but let's infill Mary Lake, Cowley Creek and Whitehorse Copper with houses/families, so the kids can go a on a wait list for a school in their area? Pretty sure some of that land they are developing was earmarked for a school someday.

Up 11 Down 1

William Shakespeare’s Remedial English tutor on Nov 6, 2018 at 3:24 pm

Re-imagining , re-purposing , re-functioning , really ? Resplendent in the reconditioning of the re-education of readers here who were brought up on plain English.

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