January 23, 2019

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All provincial projects under review including much-needed Brandon school

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/6/2016 (963 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Brandon School Division will have nowhere to put 400 kids if a new south end school isn't open by 2020 as promised, a promise that was ignored in Tuesday's provincial budget.

The NDP pledged the school would be built, Brandon school board chair Mark Sefton said this week, but that commitment is not binding on the Pallister government.

"We can't afford to take on every project," Premier Brian Pallister told reporters Friday. He blamed the former NDP government for overspending and for leaving Manitoba in a financial mess.

Education Minister Ian Wishart has said repeatedly that every proposed project in the K-12 and postsecondary systems is under review. The budget specifically mentioned three schools that are being built in the Sage Creek, Waverley West, and Riverbend areas of Winnipeg, but there was nothing about a new school for Brandon or for the Waterford Green neighbourhood in Winnipeg School Division --- another NDP promise.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/6/2016 (963 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Brandon School Division will have nowhere to put 400 kids if a new south end school isn't open by 2020 as promised, a promise that was ignored in Tuesday's provincial budget.

The NDP pledged the school would be built, Brandon school board chair Mark Sefton said this week, but that commitment is not binding on the Pallister government.

Bruce Bumstead/Brandon Sun</p><p>Brandon Sun Mark Sefton, Brandon School Division chairperson.</p>

Bruce Bumstead/Brandon Sun

Brandon Sun Mark Sefton, Brandon School Division chairperson.

"We can't afford to take on every project," Premier Brian Pallister told reporters Friday. He blamed the former NDP government for overspending and for leaving Manitoba in a financial mess.

Education Minister Ian Wishart has said repeatedly that every proposed project in the K-12 and postsecondary systems is under review. The budget specifically mentioned three schools that are being built in the Sage Creek, Waverley West, and Riverbend areas of Winnipeg, but there was nothing about a new school for Brandon or for the Waterford Green neighbourhood in Winnipeg School Division —- another NDP promise.

"We have been requesting a new school in our five-year capital plan for about six years. In the last two years we have requested a second new school," Sefton said by email. The school which former premier Greg Selinger promised Nov. 25 in Brandon "would be built at 9th Street and Maryland Avenue, making it within walking distance for all students in Patricia Heights," Sefton said.

"If a new school does not open by 2020, our existing K-8 schools will be lacking the capacity to meet the needs of over 400 students," Sefton said.

Interim NDP leader Flor Marcelino tried unsuccessfully this week to get a commitment from the Tories.

"Enrolments are projected to double over the next five years at schools such as Riverheights and King George in Brandon. Will the government commit to building this school and build it now?" Marcelino said.

Said Wishart: "We are always pleased to move the education marker forward here in Manitoba. We want to improve education in Manitoba. We know that during the last government's era, quality of education had dropped significantly in some areas and we're certainly looking forward to the opportunity to improve education for our young people here in Manitoba."

Quipped Marcelino: "I didn't hear an answer specific to those two schools in Brandon. Will this government commit to build the new school that our government announced for the south end of Brandon?"

This time it was Infrastructure Minister Blaine Pedersen who gave Marcelino a non-answer.

"Our commitment is to build roads, build relationships, rebuild the trust of Manitoba in their government. The NDP was more interested in building bureaucracy and rewarding their friends, destroying any semblance of trust. We will rebuild that trust with Manitobans," Pedersen said.

Sefton, while noting that Marcelino "may have blended some of our growth projections together," said, "We are projecting continued rapid enrollment growth and that the two schools that will feel the impact the most are Riverheights and King George."

Immigration and a steadily-increasing birth rate will produce a 40 per cent growth in kindergarten registration in 2021 compared to 2011, he said.

Enrolment in BSD grew by almost 800 students from 2010 to this past September, and the division projects an additional 950 students over the next five years. "The enrollment growth projections are equal to the combined enrollments of those two schools doubling," he said.

Growth most affects Riverheights and King George because of their proximity to the Patricia Heights housing development in the south end, but they're out of room, Sefton said.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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