By Gord Bowes, News staff
Growth in Ancaster could lead to another new public elementary schools being built in the community during the next 15 years.
One public school is already on the way in the Meadowlands area, but one more could be needed around 2027 if development continues as forecast, according to a consultant’s report received this year by Hamilton’s public school board.
The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board received education ministry approval in May for a new 450-pupil school, which doesn’t have a name yet, is scheduled to open in September 2016 in the Tiffany Hills subdivision.
That will alleviate the current need, said Daniel Del Bianco, the board’s senior facilities officer, but another may be required down the road.
“That’s still a high-growth area, so for that third elementary school, we will continue to monitor when a site’s available and we will acquire it if a need arises sooner, we will put it on our capital priorities submission,” he said.
While growth is continuing in that part of Ancaster, it is declining in others. As a result, the public school board will be holding a closure review of the cluster of Ancaster Meadow, Ancaster Senior, C.H. Bray, Fessenden, Queen’s Rangers and Rousseau in 2016/2017.
In Dundas and Westdale, no new schools are needed as enrolment is expected to decline in those communities.
In Dundas, a closure review is planned for Dundana, Dundas Central, Sir William Osler and Yorkview in 2017/18.
The current cluster of Holy Name of Mary, Immaculate Conception, St. Joachim and St. Ann elementary schools should be able to handle the growth, according to projections received by Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.
No closures will be occurring in the foreseeable future, said board chair Pat Daly.
For high schools, Ancaster’s enrolment from current developments will drop, so any pupils coming from new developments should be easily accommodated, according to the report.
Dundas Valley Secondary School, comprising the former Highland and Parkside high schools, will have 1,109 students this fall, the report says, but that number is projected to fall to 855 in 2023-24, before rising slightly to 893 by 2028-29. Capacity of the school is listed at 936.
Enrolment at Westdale, which currently has just over 1,600 students, is forecast to grow to 1,761 by 2028-29. Predicted new growth in the west end of 118 students would be accommodated by space in Westdale and the new high school planned for the Pan Am Stadium area.
Enrolment at Bishop Tonnos is projected to grow by about 400 students due to new development, but the high school is expected be able to accommodate them, said Daly.
The enrolment forecasts were included in studies presented to the boards as they formulated their revised education development charges bylaws.
The numbers are put together to give school boards an idea of where growth will be and where they should be acquiring land — and when — in order to know how to levy charges on new homes.
“It only identifies when a site should be acquired and that can fluctuate — it can be sooner, it can be later, depending on how quickly development itself comes online,” said Del Bianco. “It’s meant as a high-level analysis,” he said, and looks more at geographic areas than at individual schools.”
Five years from now, as the boards revisit those bylaws, new studies will be presented.
The plight of Hamilton boards is not unique, said Del Bianco. Most boards around the GTA face the same problem of declining enrolment in older areas but an explosion of new homes in other areas.
“They will all be to different extremes, but they all are experiencing it.”
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