SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – Improvements at École-sur-Mer are closer to realization thanks to funding announced by the provincial government recently during the presentation of the newest edition of the capital operating budget.
On Friday, the province announced $8.9 million in funding for the French language school. Five-million of that was previously allocated in the 2017 capital five-year plan.
Funding for the base project was increased to $5.7 million after the planning committee analyzed costs, explained Jean Doherty, the communications officer for the Department of Education.
“Another $1.3 million was added in this capital budget this year for high school-sized sports field upgrades, and another $2.3 million was added for a high school-sized gym, auxiliary gym and change rooms.”
This adds up to a little more than $8.9 million since the original announcement last year.
Principal of École-sur-Mer, Karen LeBlanc, was pleased to learn of the funding that would allow the school to expand its high school services. This includes an area for industrial arts, home economics, a designated science classroom and more.
“Currently, we have students bused to Miscouche for home economics and industrial arts. And, in the past, we had students have to attend École Évangeline to stay in a French program,” said LeBlanc, who took on the role of principal several months ago.
She has served on the committee active in lobbying the government for funding to allow the school to expand its services and curriculum.
“The addition to the school will allow for a more hands-on space from students to create and innovate, while putting a curriculum spin on it. It’s going to be really great for the students who continue to learn here.”
She continued, “Having these services could make a difference of one family deciding to stay in this area so their kids can continue the education or moving to another region in order to maintain a French education. I think that’s an important factor.”
Now, the school houses about 180 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. This school year will mark the first Grade 12 graduation at the school. She says the school’s capacity is already bursting at its seams.
“It has an influence on students’ learning.”
She said exciting times are ahead.
“It’s going to allow the flexibility to provide more innovation in the classroom. We’ll be able to expand our sports presence. We’ve already had six years’ worth of students using the gym for intermediate level sports. Now we’ll be able to host high school level and see it have its own space. It could also be another resource for the community.”
She said the committee has also been looking at classroom staging in provinces like New Brunswick, which has introduced “brilliant labs.”
“We’re looking at the possibility of one day having a makerspace kind of environment. We don’t know if that will happen, but we’re looking at what it could mean if we do. It’s special thinking about how we as a committee can be more innovative and that our decision will impact that of the future.”