Facing massive enrollment pressure in a fast-growing area of northwest London, the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) has put forward a series of recommendations to ease crowding at Sir Arthur Currie Public School.
Built in 2017, the school near Sunningdale and Wonderland Roads was meant for 533 students but currently has 995 enrolled. There are currently 22 portables in use at Sir Arthur Currie, with five of those portables occupying a portion of the parking lot.
As new subdivisions in the area continue to fill in, it’s expected the school will exceed 1,050 students in the 2022-2023 school year.
The province has approved funding for a new school for the area with space for 802 students, but finding a building site has been challenging. Last week the city struck a deal with a developer to set aside land for the new school in exchange for changes to the official plan that will clear the way for development on farmland at the northeast corner of Sunningdale Road West and Hyde Park Road.
That school site must still go through an approvals process with the city and a TVDSB staff report says even when it’s approved, a new school will take at least three and a half years to build.
So in the meantime, the TVDSB is recommending the following steps to address crowding at Sir Arthur Currie:
- New students in the Sir Arthur Currie catchment area will be sent to University Heights Public School starting next year, with siblings of existing Sir Arthur Currie students allowed to attend Sir Arthur Currie.
- Sir Arthur Currie be restructured to become a Kindergarten to Grade 6 school. Current and future Grade 7 and 8 students from the school will attend a newly renovated Sir Arthur Currie PS satellite campus on the grounds of Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School.
- The report also recommends families who move into the school’s attendance area attend either University Heights or Knollwood Park elementary school, with trustees making the final decision.
Also, students currently being bused from the Fox Follow West and Sunningdale north areas will have to go to either Wilfrid Jury or John P. Robarts elementary schools, with trustees getting the final say. Students in those areas are currently being bused to Ryerson School in Old North, but the report says that school is nearing capacity too.
Andrew Clark is the parent of two students attending Sir Arthur Currie, and is a past co-chair of the school council.
He feels the board is doing what they can to address the situation but says the overcrowding should have been spotted earlier by both the TVDSB and the Ministry of Education.
“The fact that we’re in this situation now shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone,” said Clark. “It probably could have been headed off by building a bigger school in the first place.”
Clark said he worries that even when the new school is built, it won’t be enough to meet the demand.
“We’re planning for current needs, not future needs, and it’s a terrible funding model that’s causing problems for our community.”