The new Riverside Public School site plan is in, and pending approval by Woolwich Township this month, shovels could break ground this spring.
The Waterloo Region District School Board facility will host junior kindergarten through Grade 6 students, along with a daycare run by the region.
Scheduled to open for classes in September 2016, the $11.6-million project will replace the existing school on William Street with a location in the centre of the new Lunor subdivision on the northwest side of town.
Plans for the new school took off last year after a WRDSB boundary study conducted in 2012-13 showed that Elmira’s public elementary schools were over capacity.
“The new Riverside PS attendance area was determined as part of the Elmira elementary schools boundary study that concluded November 25, 2013,” a statement from the board read. “The boundary will include all of the current Riverside PS boundary, as well as the Country Club Estates (Finoro Homes) subdivision.”
According to the board, Elmira public elementary schools were an average of 136 per cent over capacity in 2013, with Riverside PS at 318 per cent over its recommended enrollment limit.
Together with renovations at John Mahood PS, grade organizational changes and the new Riverside facility, the WRDSB decided to maintain existing boundaries.
But with two major developments on the books for Elmira (Lunor and Birdland), questions remain regarding whether the WRDSB will be able to service the influx of families to the community in the coming years.
According to board projections, the new Riverside PS will be roughly at its capacity of 557 students by 2018.
While those estimates show that enrollment level remaining flat through 2023, the use of portables could come into play early into the facility’s lifecycle.
“We are prepared for that possibility and we always prepare for that because sometimes students don’t always come in the grades you might want them to and with class size requirements, sometimes it doesn’t break out nicely in terms of the number of classrooms that are needed,” said Nathan Hercanuck, a senior planner with the WRDSB. “
With 24 classrooms, two elevators, a double gym and a traditional stage, the school will sit on a 6.82-acre lot.
And with construction expected to begin in June, it might be time for community members to start fundraising for a playground.
“The WRDSB does not fund creative playground structures as part of new school constructions,” a board statement said.
Circulated for staff review last week, Woolwich planners will decide whether to support the Kingsland+ Architect design within the next two to three weeks, manager of planning John Scarfone said this week.