The Department of Education is looking for portables to accommodate overflow at Whitehorse area schools, most of which are at or near capacity. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Department of Education seeks portables to accomodate overcrowded schools

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said there were no portables avaiable in western Canada

The Department of Education is looking for portables to accommodate overflow at Whitehorse area schools, most of which are at or near capacity.

The government put out a tender in 2018, but no companies responded to it.

“Our subsequent investigation found that there are just no portables to buy in western Canada,” said Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee told reporters Oct. 3, noting that her department is working in tandem with Highways and Public Works to secure more than one portable in the future.

“Nobody is needing them this minute, there’s no kids in hallways, but we would like to buy four or five (portables) because we’re trying to project enrollment going forward,” she said.

In a written statement, a department spokesperson said that five students on the waitlist at Golden Horn Elementary have been added to some classes.

“Out of 11 classrooms in the school, three are combined classroom: one split Grade 2/3 classroom and two split Grade 4/5 classrooms,” wrote Jason Mackey.

There are 240 students enrolled at Golden Horn Elementary.

Scott Kent, House Leader for the Yukon Party, told the News he went to the school’s council meeting in early September, noting that there eight families in the catchment area who couldn’t get their children into kindergarten.

“There are other kids throughout the other grades that were waitlisted as well,” Kent said, who’s also the education critic. “I think three of those kindergarten families decided to make other arrangements — I think homeschooling.”

Portables, Kent said, are a good short-term solution, but it shouldn’t end there.

“We know you can’t build all of these (new) schools all at once, but lets get this ten-year plan finalized. It was supposed to be finalized in the summer of 2017. It’s time for the minister to put her words to action,” he said.

The education department is hashing out a 10-year plan to determine delivery times for building new Whitehorse schools and their whereabouts.

“It will feed into the five-year capital for the territorial government and that will be revised in the spring and I hope to have more information at that time about how we’re going forward on individual schools,” McPhee said.

During question period, Yukon Party MLA Geraldine Van Bibber said she’s heard from parents that elementary schools in Hidden Valley and Porter Creek are also at or near capacity.

With the exception of F.H. Collins there hasn’t been a new school built in 20 years, McPhee said during question period.

McPhee said there’s “intense” pressure on Whitehorse schools, which, at least in part, is linked to the influx of new residents.

In Whistle Bend, she said there are roughly 640 new families, which includes 100 children.

“We expect that will continue to grow,” she said. “The land set aside in Whistle Bend is designated for a school. That’s been a plan long-term.”

Brian Laird, a Whistle Bend resident, said that portables are a stopgap measure. The real solution is building new schools, which is why he wants one in his neighbourhood.

“I don’t think portables are a good solution. I don’t want them for Whistle Bend, because they’re not portable. The word portable is a lie,” Laird said, meaning that he believes the facilities become permanent fixtures on school grounds.

“The real solution is proper capital planning,” Laird said. “Plan the infrastructure far enough ahead so you can budget for it and build it, properly.

“We got kids here (in Whistle Bend), and there’s a lot more coming,” Laird said. “Kids who live here now are going somewhere else and they have to be adding to some pressure there.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

U.S. government recommends largest development option for ANWR

The final environmental impact statement was released on Sept. 12

Yukon releases its FASD Action Plan

Seven priorites, 31 actions outlined

WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World

18 people evacuated from Ethel Lake as nearby wildfire grows

The North Crooked Creek fire, burning south of Stewart Crossing, has grown to 24,842 hectares

Crown rests case in Ibex Valley murder trial

Edward James Penner, 22, is accused of killing Adam Cormack in 2017

City council news, briefly

Some of the decisions made by Whitehorse city council Sept. 9

For the first time, women outnumber men at the Annual Klondike Road Relay

The field of 1,877 runners included 1,141 women, a first for the event

History Hunter: There was more than gold in them thar hills

With placer production and the general population of the Yukon both declining… Continue reading

Yukonomist: How the Yukon saved the economy

During the Klondike gold rush, the prospect of free gold drew more… Continue reading

Just Doo-Doo Its sit on the throne after winning the Great Klondike International Outhouse Race

“Running with an outhouse can be a little sketchy at times”

Yukon mountain bikers compete at Quebec championships

“In the end, it’s the race that matters”

Commentary: Choose people over paperwork

Frank Turner The following is an open letter to Stephen Samis, deputy… Continue reading

Most Read