PLPSD watches growth trend
The Portage Citizen
The Portage la Prairie School Division (PLPSD) is arguably the largest service supplier here and is keeping close watch on the area’s recent economic windfall and how it will play out for the school division.
PLPSD Superintendent Todd Cuddington knows the resultant business opportunities huge announcements make, bring new people: families with school-aged children. It will result on a strain on school board resources in a time of provincial austerity.
The division is already juggling space and staff to keep area schools within provincial teacher/student ratios and “we are expecting to be challenged in the near future,” Cuddington said.
A new school has not been built in the division since Yellowquill and that was over 40 years ago. Expansion in the mid-1980s helped the school division keep pace, but all its eyes are on the monthly school enrolment numbers. It’s anyone’s guess what 300 new jobs – these are the expected ones between the Roquette announcement and the planned expansion at Simplot – will mean in terms of population growth.
“Population has been kind of neutral at around 13,000 for decades. We’ve already seen growth in our Arthur Meghan/Crescentview catchment area,” Cuddington said. “The area most likely to continue to develop for housing is in that catchment. We definitely foresee increase demand upon the school division, but it’s tough to forecast where growth will occur,” he said.
Space is at a premium already at Crescentview. PLPSD is working with public school finance on two projects that could remedy that.
“Last year we discussed with the province the possibility of having a three-classroom expansion. It was approved in principal for Crescentview, but it was part of the 20K3 (class cap) initiative the previous government had rolled out. It was eliminated last year,” Cuddington said. “As a result, that classroom project was dropped. We’re now revisiting that to see if we can get that back on the table. Additionally, there is the former “auto/mac shop” in Arthur Meighan which is available space that could be converted into classroom space,” Cuddington said.
The PLPSD has population growth examples and how it affects education delivery in Manitoba communities to look at from Morden, Neepawa, Winkler and Steinbach. “There’s definitely been a big impact on the school division when industry moves in.”