School overcrowding could force Calgary students into rec centres, office buildings

As students count down the days until summer vacation, school boards are already looking ahead to the fall start up and putting the wheels in motion for some ad hoc learning spaces.

The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) is exploring some options to address overcrowding in schools that includes looking into spaces in recreation centres and office buildings.

In a statement to CityNews, the public school board confirmed the proactive measures to address the 9,000 new students expected next year.

“Our growth is far outpacing what we can add for learning space, and we are exploring what other spaces might be available in non-traditional school spaces,” reads the statement.


The CBE says they have an existing partnership with recreation centres and already use many for physical education and other programming. The board adds they have already completed an agreement for one space within walking distance of a high school to be used as overflow.

“This way, we can keep more students closer to home, avoid any disruption in learning and continue to provide positive learning environments for our growing student population,” says the board.

Wing Li is with Support Our Students Alberta and calls the move from CBE a band-aid solution that only addresses one problem.

“There is just not enough resources being provided by the provincial government,” she says. “There could be easily re-zoned spaces, but who will teach the new students.”

She says the province’s underfunding of education has created a desperate bind for learning spaces that is forcing school boards to find alternate solutions.

“The environment that is being cultivated in an office building is really not conducive to the vision of enhanced thorough educations,” she says. “It’s really just a room.”

She calls it a disservice by not giving students proper access to gyms, science labs and art spaces, and adds that some of these band-aid fixes for student growth have now become normalized.

“One example is portables,” she says. “Now these modular portables seem to be just the accepted norm without targeted upgrades to older school buildings.”

The Calgary Catholic School District says they are not looking into alternate spaces at this time.

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