Four new relocatable classrooms coming to École Connaught Community School has some parents concerned about overcrowding and playground size, but the Ministry of Education says the movable structures are the best way to provide flexible space.Sarah Cummings Truszkowski, whose three children are in Grades 8, 5 and 2 at Connaught, has a mixed reaction to the new relocatable classrooms (also known as portables) being used. While she thinks this is a better option than using multipurpose rooms as additional classrooms, she is worried the extra space won’t be ready by the first day of school.“I would rather my kid be in a portable than taking out the library or the music room, which is what is happening right now,” she said.“What’s going to happen now this fall? Because the portables aren’t even ready… the library is now gone in the school and there’s some classrooms in there and all those lovely spaces that the kids used to be able to use are going to be used for classrooms, which is disappointing.”Truszkowski says she’s also worried about how the relocatables are cutting into playground space. Starting this fall, she said recess time will be split into two groups to accommodate more kids playing in a smaller area.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.“All the kids and friends and siblings won’t be able to play with each other and there’s half the space in the playground because of all this construction too, so that’s no fun,” she said.Keith Tramer, whose daughter is in Grade 3 at Connaught, is also concerned about the playground downsize.“If you’ve got this many more students coming in and you’re taking a third of the playground away, how does that sound proper?” he said. “(I’m) not happy about the containers coming in.”And with more new students coming into the school this year, Tramer doesn’t think even four new classrooms will be enough to return the multipurpose rooms back to their original uses.Related Regina teacher fundraising to clear teachers’ classroom supply wish lists Parents concerned about education quality with schools in overcapacity ‘We cannot continue to tighten:’ Regina school divisions face another tough budget Regina Public Schools spokesperson Terry Lazarou said the division plans to have the four portables in use by November, and three temporary classrooms have been set up in the school in the meantime. He acknowledged the portables will cut into the playground, but said “our priority is always students in the classroom.”Connaught isn’t the only school in Regina receiving portable classrooms.More classrooms are needed across Regina’s school divisions as they see an increasing number of students. Regina Public Schools is projecting a total of 24,493 students this fall, said Lazarou, an increase of more than 2,000 students since 2015. Regina Catholic Schools are anticipating 12,206 students this fall, up more than 1,300 students from 2015.École Wascana Plains School is getting one new relocatable. According to the province’s Ministry of Education, St. Gregory School and St. Joan of Arc School are also each receiving one relocatable, although these are being shuffled from other Catholic schools.While some parents might not be pleased with relocatable classrooms, the Ministry of Education’s executive director of infrastructure Sheldon Ramstead said these movable structures are the best option to address “fluctuating enrolment.” Instead of building a larger traditional school, constructing a slightly smaller building and then using portables gives divisions more flexibility in allocating space.When the Ministry of Education builds a school, Ramstead said it designs the building for “stable enrolment” — the number of students a neighbourhood will have once it is fully developed and there is little population growth. Relocatable classrooms are often a part of that design. Ramstead said Connaught and École Harbour Landing Elementary School were both built with the intention of using portable classrooms within the first few years.“As the community ages out and kids move on, then they’re able to move those relocatables — like Regina Catholic is — to other schools that need it as those communities grow with younger children,” said Ramstead.“All of a sudden you’ve got a school that has capacity but there’s no way for you to right-size it. With the relocatables, it provides us with the opportunity to move those to a school that needs the space and we can lower the operating costs of that school without having empty classrooms.”The cost difference between using portable classrooms versus building a larger school up front is “negligible,” said Ramstead, and the main draw to relocatables is the flexibility they offer without compromising on building quality.“They are built as well as any school construction in the province now and they are designed to move multiple times, and they’ve got the same lifespan as your school construction,” he said.lgiesbrecht@postmedia.com

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