Heritage Heights School wants expansion
Education: Davisburg K-9 school at 108 per cent capacity seven years after opening
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 08:48 am
Parents of Heritage Heights School are considering raising funds for a $1.4 million structure to add more classroom and gym space.
Heritage Heights parent council chair Michelle Porteous said the school is in dire need of space.
Approximately 40 parents voted at a meeting at the school on May 15 to pursue exploring adding space to the school, including the possibility of a $1.4 million structure with a small gym, two classrooms and washrooms.
“Currently we have two Grade 6 classrooms, with two teachers, amalgamated into one large room and the concern with Grade 6 parents is there is a noise issue and it’s not a great learning environment for the kids,” she said after the meeting at the school.
“We’re looking at other alternatives to fund a building or portables — some sort of solution to rectify the space issue.”
Porteous stressed it is looking at all possibilities, however, the modular classroom would not provide another gym to ensure the students continue getting daily physical activity.
“You aren’t getting the extra gym space, the extra storage and the extra bathrooms,” Porteous said of the modulars. “They still don’t alleviate the other pressures we have in the school... we are just weighing our options right now.”
Heritage Heights principal Joanne Higgins stressed the talks are exploratory.
“We have community support to move ahead to find support for our current space problem,” Higgins said.
She said without the added space, the K-Grade 9 school, which opened in 2006, would have to come up with creative solutions such as using the stage, learning commons and even staff rooms as classrooms.
“We are going to have to look at those realities,” she said. “Come Sept. 2 we will have an organization plan that works to the best of our ability with our constraints.”
Heritage Heights is currently at 108 per cent capacity or 529.5 students. Schools are considered having their spaces stretched when they reach the 80 per cent capacity rate.
Due to the lack of gym space, teachers at Heritage Heights have had students do exercise outside or within the confines of the classroom to ensure they got their daily physical activity.
Expansion plans to Heritage Heights become more complex because Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools is adding its own K-9 school nearby. It is expected to come on stream in the fall of 2016.
Higgins estimated the loss of students to CTR-Catholic for faith-based reasons will equal the number of students Heritage Heights will gain due to population growth – leaving the school at around 108 per cent capacity.
Foothills School Division is considering funding from its own coffers two modular classrooms to relieve pressure at schools.
“We have made no commitments but we are looking at what that would cost and what we would have to do to do that,” said Drew Chipman, assistant superintendent, corporate services.
He estimated the cost to get the modulars fully functional would be around $700,000.
If Foothills did finance the modulars, there is no guarantee they would go to Heritage Heights, as there are other schools with capacity issues in the division.
“Certainly, we are looking at Davisburg, but the board hasn’t made a determination,” he said. “We have a number of schools that have needs. Dr. Morris Gibson and Westmount are both 100 per cent capacity as well.”
The Aldersyde-based Sprung Structures presented a proposed $1.4 million facility at the May 15 meeting.
Chipman said the proposed structure would have to be financed by the community. He said if it is built, it would be donated to the division, which would maintain and determine — with consultation with the public — what programs would take place at the facility.
“This would be something different than anything we have ever done,” Chipman said. “We have had communities contribute dollars to capital projects in the past, but not in a separate facility.”
Phil Sprung, of Sprung Structures, said it has built school facilities – including gyms – around the world.
It recently constructed a gym in Elbow Park school to replace one destroyed by flooding.
Sprung estimates it takes 90 to 120 days to build a structure after permits are in place, depending on the type of structure.
“Timelines are dramatically less with a Sprung structure,” he said.
He said Sprung Structures has a saying: Engineered for permanence, but designed for relocatability.
He said if need be, the facility could be repurposed – moved and used for different uses.