On January 25th Christina Stachowicz (ÉSCS parent and former ÉSCS PAC Vice Chair) and I met with Konrad Erickson and Kyle Lewkowich of the Public Schools Finance Board (PSFB), along with Christian Michalik and Marna Kenny Louis Riel School Division’s Superintendent and Secretary Treasurer. The meeting was called to go over the findings of the PSFB’s capacity review after the detailed information requested from the LRSD following a meeting I attended with then Minister of Education Ian Wishart last June.
The PSFB was established in 1967 and administers the Capital Support Program on behalf of the Province of Manitoba. The guidelines that the PSFB follows are set by the Minister of Education in determining capacity. Their typical approach to determine capacity, has been used for over 30 years. Basically, the PSFB has to follow guidelines set by elected officials to determine through formulas, where money can be spent on capital items (new schools, new roofs on existing schools, etc) throughout the province. But even with recommendations the funds need to be provided by the provincial government that has set the guidelines.
A large part of the difference in the capacity numbers being used by LRSD versus what the PSFB calculates is that LRSD has chosen to try to maintain class sizes at a maximum of 20 students for K-3 classrooms. According to a study (which was not shared) the province has said that benefits of reduced class sizes weren’t shown until the number of students in a K-3 classroom was reduced to 15 per classroom. Therefore, the current provincial government uses a formula that has been in place for over 30 years, where maximum class size is 25 students for all grade levels K-8.
According to this difference in the mindset and formula, PSFB sees 5400 available K-8 spaces in the Division right now vs LRSD's numbers of 1500....that's a significant difference and would fluctuate depending on population of K-3 students in each school. This still seems like too much of a gap for just the classroom maximums for K-3 students having a 5 student variance but we didn't drill down the details of every school to analyze.
Another factor in determining capacity is the size of the school, its classrooms and the amenities within it. Click here to find a copy of the PSFB’s Space Standards which are the guidelines that determine the number of classrooms. Simply put, for K-8 schools, the PSFB determines capacity by taking the “classroom count” and multiplying by 25. Areas that exceed the recommended size and requirements within a school will be considered classroom spaces even when used for other purposes i.e science labs, art rooms, and music rooms (depending on the enrolment numbers within a school).
Trying not to waste the time and money spent for 3 years on achieving smaller class sizes for K-3 classrooms and seeing value in smaller class sizes, LRSD has been using some government funding and has worked into their budget in 2017-2018 using funds from the special levy on our property taxes, to keep class sizes at 20 or less for K-3 grades. With no increase to funding from the province and the limited amount available through the special levy (our property taxes) maintaining the smaller class sizes for K-3 is unattainable without impacting other programs and services in the Division. The LRSD Board will have to decide the cost and value of maintaining the lower class sizes. With that decision we will see a change in what capacity is to the Division.
During the meeting it was noted by Mr. Erickson that we will need a school in Sage Creek, eventually, but that there are other schools in the province in greater need and even though they may recommend a school for an area, it’s the province that needs to find the money to fund it.
My questions is, what is the plan? If they know we need another school eventually, they have their guidelines that won’t allow for busing more than an hour for students and the moratorium on school closures is still in place how do they expect to accommodate ALL the students in LRSD in the coming years?
The finger gets pointed to the government for not funding a new school; the PSFB can recommend it but according to current numbers they won’t. They point the finger back at the Division to utilize existing space within the Division. Which is what LRSD has done so far. Moving our grade 7 and 8 students into their respective high schools and turning École Sage Creek School into a K-6 school is a short term solution. It is only assumption, but history has shown with the realignment of the catchment boundaries in 2015 that if the Division and the Province can’t agree when a new school should be built (or closed) another realignment may be the next step in accommodating the increased enrolment throughout the Division.
Now the question is how long do we put up with more students being crammed into schools in the hopes that a new school will be built in the near future? When does a call get made that the province isn’t going to fund another school so the Division may have to realign a number of a catchment lines and potentially change the grade configurations even more, and/or language designations of schools. This isn’t just an issue for Sage Creek, this is an issue for potentially a number of schools in LRSD.
We’ve been living this reality for a while now but it seems the message hasn’t reached everyone that this potentially affects. Are the families in Island Lakes, Bonavista, Southdale, Southland Park, Windsor Park, etc aware that this is happening and how it may affect them? How full classes may get? How many houses will be sold to families when they don’t know how long their children may attend a school in their neighbourhood? How many families would be affected by a catchment or grade configuration change for childcare and transportation?
This isn’t just a Sage Creek issue. We need a plan.
The PSFB requires a 5 year plan from every School Division in the province for capital spending.
What is their plan? Where are we on their priority list? Why isn’t it transparent to the students, parents, and all taxpayers?
A Provincial Education Review was announced in January that is supposed to look at a wide range of topics in the Kindergarten to Grade 12 system, including: student learning, teaching, accountability for student learning, governance, and funding. To clarify, the review on Funding will not address topics such as funding models, local taxation, teacher compensation, or teacher pensions and benefits. It will look at answering the question: What actions are required to ensure that the education system is sustainable and provides equitable learning opportunities for all children and youth?
At this time there hasn’t been further information shared on how individuals can participate in the Commission’s Review, only to watch the website for more information. We’ll be sure to watch for posting at: https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/educationreview/
Currently, the only group that’s coming out on top in all of this is our community developer who continues to sell lots and homes to families anticipating that they will be attending a school in their community. What is going to happen if/when the Dawson Trails Community starts being built?
So, what can we do now? I would like to see the issues we’re facing brought to more parents, families and taxpayers. More people should know the struggles we are facing for a clear plan from the province. When a government is elected on a promise to reduce the deficit and not increase taxes, cuts are going to be made and money won’t be spent. Or maybe it just won’t be shared until the next election is called and they can announce their spending to come out on top?! I’m not interested in those electoral politics. The purpose of the PSFB is to prioritize the needs of capital investments for schools throughout the province and it’s the provincial government’s job to determine how much money will be spent. When they aren’t sharing their plans we’re left to assume and make-do. We deserve better.
If you’re interested in discussing more about the current status of the need for another school in Sage Creek, and/or if you’re willing to write a letter to your MLA and/or sign a petition, please sign up on our mailing list below to help move this forward. We deserve to know the plan.
École Sage Creek School PAC, Chair
The news release issued on January 22, 2019 by the Provincial Government notes funding to support school capital projects throughout the province. There is no funding for Sage Creek mentioned in this release. The new schools being built in Manitoba that are referenced in this news release were announced 1 to 3 years ago, in previous provincial budget announcements.
There is a meeting scheduled with Public Schools Finance Board, Senior Administration of the Louis Riel School Division, our PAC Chair and President of the SCRA on Friday, January 25, 2019. It is a follow up from our meeting in June that led to the the review of capacity numbers throughout LRSD by PSFB.
Overpopulation update from ESCS PAC Chair, Sandra-Dee Beer, shared at November 14th PAC Meeting
Last meeting we relayed that our MLA Andrew Smith had met with the newly appointed Minister of Education Kelvin Goertzen on September 24th he is aware of the discrepancy between the capacity numbers that the PSFB is using vs what the LRSD is using for schools within the Division. At that time he had asked that a meeting take place between PSFB and LRSD before the end of October.
The meeting did take place on October 17th and follow-up requests for more information/clarification have been received by the Division since that meeting – most recently last Friday. The feedback from the meeting received through Acting Superintendent Christian Michalik was that “the PSFB’s theoretical model has more implications vs the Division’s practical model”; everything was discussed, from utilizing the early music program spaces and student services areas as classrooms and the class size guidelines that the Province uses vs the Division – the Province’s guideline is an average of 25 students per classroom no matter the age; the Division puts additional funding and resources towards targeting a maximum of 20 students in K-3 and 25 in 4-8, where space allows. They/the PSFB did agree that model that LRSD is using is valid and it seemed they were supportive of it but the final analysis has not been sent to the Province. They went through the information in detail for every school in LRSD. It was also noted that LRSD is the only Division in Winnipeg that has been asked to provide this much detail in analyzing the need for additional schools; the province did ask for this information from Brandon School Division and they did end up getting an announcement for a new school.
Since that meeting took place the new Deputy Minister of Education has been appointed Grant Doak; Rob Santos remains as the Assistant Deputy Minister, his was the only position not to have changed in the past 4 months – Christian is meeting with him on Friday. Requests are in from the Senior Administration and the Board to meet with Minister Goertzen – no responses have been received.
I sent and inquiry to Andrew Smith to get information on the process and status of the review between the PSFB and LRSD, and what the next steps will be. He did get back to me right before our meeting this evening to relay that the review by PSFB indicates that there are still unutilized spaces in LRSD that they feel should be used before granting funding for another school.
Moving forward – what can we do?
Keep the pressure on our MLA and the Province, continue to ask what the status of another school is? What were the results of the review by PSFB? When will an announcement be made for funding of another school? Make note that we don’t want them to wait another year to announce it as an election promise, we want this announcement this Spring – they can campaign on the fact that they acted before it was critical and have a picture of the groundbreaking for the new school instead of promise that may come too late if they wait another year. The Province feels with their tendering model that they can have a school built in 2 years from time of announcement – this was stated by PSFB at our meeting in June. The fact is that schools announced two years ago hadn’t broken ground 18 months later. We can’t risk that, we simply don’t have the time or space.
An information evening was held at École Sage Creek School on Thursday, October 11, 2018.
- Presentation by Christian Michalik
- Presentation by Windsor Park Collegiate and Collège Béliveau
- Video – A Day in the Life – Windsor Park Collegiate
- Video – A Day in the Life – Grade 7 at Collège Béliveau
As was shared in May, the LRSD School Board and its Senior Leadership Team have decided that, in order to manage overcrowding at the school while awaiting the provincial government to announce and build a second school in Sage Creek, Windsor Park Collegiate and Collège Béliveau will welcome the Grades 7 and 8 students from ÉSCS beginning in September 2019. Students in Grades 7 and 8 will attend these two schools until the second school is built in Sage Creek.
The Louis Riel School Division, in coordination with École Sage Creek School (ESCS), Windsor Park Collegiate and Collège Béliveau, has prepared FAQs for the Sage Creek community regarding high school transition plans for the community.
Overpopulation update from ESCS PAC Chair, Sandra-Dee Beer, shared at September 26th PAC Meeting
On Sept 13th I met with LRSD Acting Superintendent Christian Michalik; Acting Asst Superintendent Henri Peloquin where they confirmed the PSFB requested data from the LRSD, very specific data in a specific format for all 41 schools in the Division on June 28th. The completed package with the requested data was sent on August 20th to the PSFB
On Sept 15th I email sent to MLA Andrew Smith regarding the review that was supposed to take place between the PSFB and LRSD.
On Sept 24th after a follow up text, I received a call from MLA Andrew Smith, he had met with the newly appointed Minister of Education Kelvin Goertzen that morning; the Minister inquired as to the status of the review between the Division and PSFB. He has asked for the review to be completed by the end of October.
No meeting date has been set.
Overpopulation update from ÉSCS PAC Chair, Sandra-Dee Beer:
As you know, ÉSCS was built with a student capacity of 600 and is projected to have 740 students enrolled this September. To accommodate the increased number of students in ÉSCS next year the Louis Riel School Division has chosen to create two additional classroom spaces in the Main Floor Commons and will be utilizing the classrooms that were used as an Art and Guitar room this year as the classrooms they were intended to be. To accommodate the continued growth and estimated enrolment of over 800 students in September of 2019 the LRSD plans to move the grades 7 and 8 students to their respective catchment high schools, Collège Béliveau for French Immersion and Windsor Park Collegiate for English. They further plan to change the existing Human Ecology and Industrial Arts rooms into classrooms.
As a parent, and a taxpayer, I didn’t agree with this choice and to feel comfortable with it I wanted to be sure that every other option was looked at by LRSD to accommodate students within the Division, and wanted to confirm that the information we have been receiving through the LRSD on behalf of the Provincial Government was accurate. We’ve been told to “stop asking for portables” but the statement wasn’t in reply to any of my inquiries, it was filtered through the LRSD. I needed information from both LRSD and the Minister of Education to feel comfortable with the LRSD’s strategy in dealing with the growing population in Sage Creek.
LRSD: show me the numbers that prove there is no other option.
Minister of Education: confirm that the Province will not fund portables and tell us what your plan is for Sage Creek.
I was invited last Friday, June 22nd to the LRSD Board Office and was able to view the numbers for the schools throughout LRSD and it is scary to be honest. There are 32 elementary schools in the LRSD and 1/3 of them are either right at or over capacity – ÉSCS being the highest over capacity in the Division. Yes, there are small pockets of spaces available but they aren’t enough to accommodate the number of students we will need to displace from Sage Creek for longer than a year without those schools being over capacity too. Taking the total capacity of LRSD and using their projections, the Division as a whole will be overcapacity by 2028. These enrolment projections have been accurate for a number of years as the LRSD has been using a database from a software provider, Baragar since 2001 that pulls information from many sources (CRA, birth registry, census, etc.). It also has the capability of including additional information specific to an area, such as data from developers on the number of homes that are planned to be built in an area. The data is there to show the need for an additional elementary school in LRSD, specifically in Sage Creek.
After months of requests, yesterday, June 25th, myself, and Frank Capasso, the President of the Sage Creek Residents’ Association met with Minister of Education Ian Wishart, Deputy Minister of Education Jamie Wilson, Southdale MLA Andrew Smith, and Konrad Erickson of the Public Schools’ Finance Board to hear the Province’s position on our need for an additional K-8 school in Sage Creek. I am very grateful they took the time to meet with us and will acknowledge the work they have done as a government to catch up on the need for investment in schools throughout the Province. The main things I want to relay about this meeting are:
• Sage Creek is on their radar, they are watching the growth in our area closely.
• They will fund portables in the province but would prefer not to, there are many portables in the Province that aren’t in use but their condition is too poor to relocate them.
• They feel they have the processes in place to have new schools constructed within 24 to 28 months after funding is confirmed. They do not announce a new school until funding is confirmed.
• They want the Division to utilize existing space throughout LRSD before a new school will be confirmed for Sage Creek.
o I asked where they felt there was space for students to go within the Division and the reply was that there are 440 spaces available at Frontenac School and École Howden. For those of you who may not be aware, approximately 2/3 of the population of ÉSCS came from these two elementary schools in Windsor Park. Both of these schools lost resources spaces, including their library, Family Centre, Nursery School, sensory and art rooms, and had to reduce the size of their classrooms while increasing the number of students in each classroom. They were well beyond their capacity. However it is this number, the HIGHEST PREVIOUS ENROLMENT in a school, that the PSFB is using to determine the capacity of our schools in LRSD, with no regard for resources lost, stress on students, staff and the building to fit in as many students as possible. This is unacceptable and I stated so in our meeting yesterday. I am grateful to the Honourable Ian Wishart for acknowledging that this should not be the numbers we are looking to as guidelines. The Public Schools’ Finance Board has offered to meet again with the LRSD and more openly discuss the data they are using. I will be following up to find out when that meeting will be taking place.
My hope is the Provincial Government sees the value in maintaining all schools within a reasonable capacity and supports the plan as proposed by LRSD to build a new school in Sage Creek. The issue of how the Province is determining capacity of a school is not one that will affect just Sage Creek but all of LRSD, and potentially the rest of the schools in Manitoba. Inevitably some students will have to be moved out of our existing school, it would be a short term sacrifice if the Province announces funding for a new school. If they don’t announce funding by next year we truly will be in a crisis, we don’t want to wait for an election promise, we need their support for a new school in Sage Creek now.
I will be writing my letters again, both personally and as Parent Advisory Council Chair, to our MLA Andrew Smith, the Minister of Education Ian Wishart and Premier Brian Pallister to request they provide funding for an additional K-8 school in Sage Creek. I hope you will too.
ÉSCS PAC, Chair
WIthout funding for portables the plan to bus Kindergarten students will not be viable. LRSD has decided to repurpose the Lower Learning Commons into two classrooms for 2018-2019, along with increasing class sizes and utilizing the rooms used as Art and Guitar classrooms in 2017-2018 as full-time classrooms all Sage Creek students will be able to attend ESCS for the 2018-2019 school year. In 2019-2020 Ecole Sage Creek School will become a K-6 school with the 7/8 students being bused to their catchment high school - College Beliveau for French Immersion and Windsor Park Collegiate for English.
For more details and to see the presentation that was shared, click here.
The ESCS PAC created a post on our Facebook Page (before this website was established) to communicate the overpopulation issue to parents, residents and taxpayers. It was encouraged that everyone write to our MLAs, Minister of Education and the Premier to ask for funding for portables and another K-8 school in Sage Creek.
We encouraged those that wrote letters to post them in the comments so send them in to be posted anonymously to let everyone see how the busing of students will affect each of them and their families.
Current projections indicate that 107 Kindergarten-aged children residing in Sage Creek will choose to attend ÉSCS. As of 2017, 120 Kindergarten-aged children resided in Sage Creek. The current plan is to accommodate 107 requests based on this projected number for 2018-19.
If we allow 107 students to start Kindergarten in ÉSCS in 2018 and we are successful in adding spaces at ÉSCS, the Kindergarten registration for future years (beginning in 2019-20) will be capped at 80 students (40 in the English
program and 40 in the French Immersion program).
For 2018-19, if the number registering for Kindergarten is greater than the projected 107 students, the length of time a family has been residing in Sage Creek (without interruption) will determine where a child is placed in the queue for the allocated Kindergarten spaces. For 2019-20 and beyond, the length of
time the parents/guardians have been residing in the Sage Creek catchment (without interruption) will determine where a child is placed in the queue for the allocated Kindergarten spaces.
See the comprehensive Community Update provided by LRSD here.
Summary of Overpopulation Public Meeting held January 25, 2018
- LRSD plans to cap Kindergarten enrolment starting in the 2018-2019 school year
- Younger siblings of currently enrolled student will be guaranteed enrolment to keep families together
- Funding for portables from the PSFB must be received accommodate the growth in ESCS, even with capping the number of Kindergarten registrations
- The only French Immersion schools with enough available classroom spaces are École Provencher (K-3) and École Henri-Bergeron (4-8)
- The English program K-8 schools with enough available classroom spaces not being considered to accommodate overcrowding pressures in other parts of the LRSD are: Victor Wyatt School, Minnetonka School, Nordale School, and Marion School. No decision has been made as to which school Sage Creek students would be bussed to
- Registration for the remaining Kindergarten spots would be on a first-come first-served basis
Without a physical school we couldn't establish a Parent Advisory Council, soon after the doors opened parents came together to create our first PAC at ESCS. Read about it here.
September 7th, 2017 - the first official day of school at Ecole Sage Creek School.
Information on conferences and what to expect can be found on the school's website by following this link.
Read the post about the staff at Ecole Sage Creek School from Principal Marc Poirier, here.
In December 2016, LRSD Trustees alongside Superintendent Duane Brothers, Assistant Superintendent Christian Michalik, Assistant Superintendent Lisa Aitken, Secretary Treasurer Brad Fulton, Charles Robert from our Maintenance Department as well as architects from Number 10, were treated to a tour of the worksite at our amazing school. Read more about it here.
Other site visit links and pictures can be found at the following links:
August 2013 - Joint interview committee reaches agreement on Design Firm
September 2013 - Number TEN Architectural Group selected by LRSD Board and approved by Public Schools Finance Board (PSFB)
October 2013 - LRSD hosts open community workshop for the design of "Sage Creek School" and announces its dual track status
April 2014 - PSFB gives LRSD approval to proceed to the Design Development phase
June 2014 - Number TEN hosts LRSD working group
The Province of Manitoba announced on April 24, 2013 that it will build an Early Learning to Grade 8 school in Sage Creek to serve the families of the Louis Riel School Division.
School location: Sage Creek Boulevard and Edward Turner Drive
Grades: Kindergarten to Grade 8
Capacity: 450 to 600 students
Early Learning and Childcare: 114 child care spaces
Square Footage: 68,000
- a science technology education room,
- a physical education and health facility,
- a learning resource centre and library,
- a band and music room,
- a practical arts classroom, and
- facilities for special-needs students.
The school will exceed the province's Green Building Policy by targeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Standard building certification.
See Provincial news release here.