Eight portables have been added over the past six years to accommodate growth at EIDES. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

SD5 drafts business case for Fernie school expansion

Ecole Isabella Dicken Elementary School is currently 30 per cent over capacity

An overcrowded elementary school in Fernie has been given the green light to draft a business case for an expansion, which will be submitted to the Ministry of Education in the coming months.

Ecole Isabella Dicken Elementary School (EIDES) is currently 30 per cent over capacity, with approximately 350 students. Eight portables have been added over the past six years to help address this issue.

Projected growth data provided to The Free Press by the Southeast Kootenay School District (SD5) shows the capacity of EIDES reaching 190 per cent in the next 10 years.

“Ultimately, the vision is to meet the needs of the students in Fernie for decades to come,” said SD5 Secretary Treasurer Alan Rice.

“As we move through this development process with the Ministry, we will put forward a case to highlight this growth and look for the best possible solutions given the opportunities available with provincial, and local government and private entities within the community.”

SD5 has been approved to draft a business case for an expansion at EIDES, which is to be submitted to the Ministry of Education by this fall. As this is labelled as an expansion, the school district explained that this could mean the replacement of these portables.

The report will look at current capacity, future enrolment and various options for the expansion, including related costs, timeline and alternate funding sources.

It will also include a rationale for the options chosen by the applicant, quantitative and qualitative analysis, community consultation, and more.

“Once the Ministry has received this business case, staff will work with the District to find the best option to add new seats in the community,” said a Ministry of Education spokesperson.

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