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Public board proposes new school and addition to existing school in Cambridge

The growth of young families is driving the need for more schools in two areas of Cambridge
Waterloo Region District Board of Education.

The growth of young families in two Cambridge neighbourhoods is driving a proposal to increase the number of public elementary classrooms in the city. 

Accommodation pressure has prompted the Waterloo Region District School Board to apply to the Ministry of Education for funding to build an addition at Parkway Public School in Preston Heights, and a new school to serve north Cambridge. 

The proposed addition at Parkway would create five classrooms and add a new gymnasium to the school, which currently has on-the-ground capacity of 251 pupil places.

The funding request was sent to the ministry last week to meet the May 21 deadline for its capital priorities program.

The plan to build a new school, to meet the needs of families in the River Mill development in Hespeler, is for seven acres of land owned by the WRDSB at Equestrian Way and Dressage Trail. The school would accommodate 591 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 8 and include a child care centre with 88 spaces.

In a report of capital priorities presented to the committee of the whole earlier this month, the board’s capital plan working group outlined these needs “based on enrolment, utilization trends, the number of projects the WRDSB currently has underway and the status of these projects, development activity (including the ability to complete the project within the given timelines), and building conditions.” 

The board is required to present its business cases for each project, including rationale, scope, funding and estimated cost.

The ministry looks at a number of factors in determining which projects will get funding, including the accuracy of enrolment projections in previously approved projects.

According to the board's long term projected enrolment, Parkway school will reach a deficit of 90 pupil places by 2025 if the school's capacity isn't increased. At two public schools serving new subdivisions in north Cambridge, Silverheights Public School and Hespeler Public school, space deficit is already an issue and will continue to be as planned subdivisions come online. 

Cost estimates for the board's proposed capital projects were not included in the committee report.

The 2021-22 capital priorities projects are expected to be completed and open no later than the 2024-25 school year.