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Board plans new Riverside PS in Elmira subdivision

Riverside Public School will be rebuilt in Elmira’s new Lunor Subdivision, with the opening date targeted for September 2016. This and other changes to Elmira’s elementary schools were the result of a boundary study by the Waterloo Region District School Board, presented Tuesday night at a public meeting at Park Manor PS.

The new Riverside, which will accommodate 550 students (compared to the current enrolment of 300), is the result of projected population increases from the new Lunor subdivision, which will bring 1,700 housing units to the area.

The study also recommends adding six classrooms to John Mahood PS, and changes to school organization in the area. John Mahood and Riverside will introduce Grade 6 classes in 2016, while Park Manor will accommodate Grades 7 and 8.

Combined enrolment at the three schools stands at 1,013, or 136 per cent over capacity, with schools using a combined 23 portables and portapacks to meet with demand. Riverside is particularly overstressed at 318 per cent over capacity, and with the Lunor subdivision falling within its boundary that could get worse.

The developments are projected to increase elementary school enrolment to more than 1,350 total students by 2023, with Riverside alone rising from 302 to 557.

“The board recognized that the current Riverside Public School site and facility would not be able to handle the additional enrolment coming from this development,” Nathan Hercanuck, senior planner for the WRDSB, told attendees at the announcement on Tuesday at Park Manor PS.

School boundaries will remain the same. New subdivision residents will be temporarily assigned to John Mahood while construction of the new Riverside is underway, joining the new building in 2016.

In a post-presentation Q&A, Hercanuck told attendees the new Riverside PS would likely be two storeys, and would also likely include a double gym, green space, and expanded library.

Hercanuck said the boundary study’s recommendation may be prepared and submitted to the WRDSB by January but the timeline is not confirmed. There is also no firm timeline for the addition to John Mahood.

The working group for the boundary study included parent representatives from the three schools as well as WRDSB staff. Factors considered included walking distances, transportation efficiency, school capacity, population density, and proximity to other schools.

More information on the results of the boundary study are available at www.wrdsb.ca/planning/boundary-studies/elmira-boundary-study.

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