Pre-primary expansion creating overcrowding at some Halifax schools
HALIFAX -- The decision to expand pre-primary to every four-year-old in Nova Scotia has been welcomed by some parents, but it's also raising questions about how to fit those students into already crowded schools.
Thirty-one new pre-primary programs will be introduced in the Halifax area this September and that has some parents questioning if the proper infrastructure is in place.
"It's frustrating and you can see this train wreck coming from a mile away," said parent Dave Carroll
In Carroll's case, his son's school will be reconfigured, meaning he will move from his elementary school sooner than expected.
"We are concerned about our son going to a school where he will be 11 and the other students will be an older age," said Carroll."Some of them will be shaving and our son will not be and that to me doesn't seem right."
The president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union says there's been a lack of communication and consultation with parents, leaving them blindsided.
"You know, two years ago, we would have had elected school board trustees that would have been reviewing these plans, OK'd a communications plan," said NSTU president Paul Wozney."Now, obviously, those people have been terminated. They're not around anymore and now parents are learning through press releases that there's four months to sort out all these details."
Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston understands why parents are concerned.
"A notice going out to parents saying your child will be in high school next year when they had expectations they would have another year in junior high," Houston said. "These can be disruptive things for families, and it's unfortunate that the government hasn't been consulting with them, hasn't been meeting with them."
The Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) says some schools will have space to offer the program but there will be some space challenges.
"We know in some schools we're not even going to be able to offer the program in the school, we're going to have to offer it off-site -- in five circumstances," said HRCE spokespersonDoug Hadley."We know in some schools, that they can offer the program in their schools without any issues at all. We also know that we're going to do some grade reconfigurations and we're also, in eight schools, going to likely have to add portables to that school community to onboard the addition of pre-primary."
For their part, government says they know some parents are concerned about grade reconfiguration and portables.
"Any student going to junior high, for example, in Grade 6 will actually have access to greater programming opportunities and more extracurricular activities, so there are advantages to that happening as well," said Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill.