Amber Trails Community School is set to open earlier than expected.
At a presentation on Tue., Feb. 11 at James Nisbet Community School, Seven Oaks School Division superintendent Brian O’Leary said construction on the new birth to Grade 8 school is "almost halfway" completed, with classes slated to begin in January 2015, half a school year ahead of its initial fall 2015 target.
The 85,000-square-foot school, located on the north side of Templeton Avenue, just west of Pipeline Road, will house approximately 600 kindergarten to Grade 8 students, as well as a child care centre for infant and preschool students.
The school will reduce overcrowding at James Nisbet, Arthur E. Wright, Leila North and Constable Edward Finney schools, which O’Leary said are all about 50% over capacity.
The division held two other community presentations at Wright and Finney, Jan. 23 and Feb. 4 respectively, and O’Leary said feedback from parents has been very positive.
"I think people are excited about a new school that is in their neighbourhood that is walking distance, because right now, lots of kids are being bussed to crowded schools," O’Leary said.
"Also, I think people are excited about the expansion of daycare. There are some concerns regarding transportation and pedestrian issues, those are the things that have come up in questions, but people generally seem quite satisfied with the transition plan that the division is presenting."
Since the students will be moving mid-school year, the division will alleviate any disruption by moving whole classes together. That means students, teachers, supplies, basically everything but the furniture.
O’Leary said the division will consider individual circumstances before moving students. For example, siblings won’t be separated and Grade 8 students won’t make the move as they will soon be transitioning to high school.
O’Leary said Amber Trails Community School is built to a "100 year standard," and will feature radiant heat from the floors, lots of windows and natural light, and a large school grounds, including a soccer/baseball field.
Also, the school is strategically located so the existing walking paths in the Amber Trails community will lead to the school.
"They’re (the students) always in sight of someone’s kitchen window, and there’s no traffic on them (the paths), so it’s a really good opportunity where most kids are walking to school," O’Leary said. "We’re hoping lots of kids are walking and feeling safe walking."
That’s good news to Amber Trails residents Julie and Eddie Popke.
"Our son will be starting school in 2015, so we don’t currently have a child in school, but it’s very exciting for us to know there’s going to be a new K to 8 school that he can walk to in the community," said Julie Popke, noting their son would probably attend Finney otherwise, andwould have to be bussed.
Amber Trails resident Raj Brar, who has a daughter starting kindergarten in September, is also impressed with how the new school is shaping up.
"My first and only concern is the timeliness, if it’s actually going to open in January like they say it’s going to, and just the disruption of switching schools, but other than that, I think everything looks really good," Brar said.
"I’m pretty pumped for my daughter to start attending school there."