• Hunter Cresswell

Grand Boisé fourth grade over capacity

The future is still uncertain for three Chelsea fourth graders who École Grand Boisé doesn’t have room for – and the school is calling for parents to voluntarily send their kids to school in Hull.


Despite this, there are desks available in every other grade level at the school, Centre de Services Scolaire des Portages-de-l'Outaouais assistant director general Stéphane Lacasse explained.


So far, solutions are still sought for the three students, whoever they may end up being.


And it could have been worse. There were also surpluses of first and second grade students at Grand Boisé but the school created a combo classroom that will serve both grades to accommodate more students.


“That’s a good option that I’ve seen elsewhere,” Mayor Pierre Guénard said.


Guénard said the Centre de Services Scolaire des Draveurs school he used to work at had combination classrooms for each level.


In September 2021, 474 students were enrolled in Grand Boisé and the centre expects 492 students to be enrolled this coming school year. Centre officials have previously told the Low Down that the school’s maximum capacity is around 601 but, when asked, Lacasse said that it’s difficult to provide accurate maximum student numbers because there are more spaces that could be converted to classrooms and more students that could be added to classes in some grade levels.


Lacasse said that because there’s a combination first and second grade class this coming year, it doesn’t mean that there will be a combination second and third grade class the following school year.


The Low Down asked Lacasse and Guénard what’s being done to accommodate the increased demand for school spaces in Chelsea. Right now, not much.


Both said that the municipality and school service centre are working together as new residential developments bring in more residents.


According to Statistics Canada, the population of the municipality of Chelsea jumped from 6,909 to 8,000 between the 2016 and 2021 censuses.


In March 2019, the former Chelsea council asked the school service centre, which was a school board at the time, for a new school to be built in the municipality and sent that request to other Quebec government officials.


The Quebec Education Ministry denied that request in 2021.


“For the moment, we haven’t renewed that request,” Lacasse said.


The school service centre has requested a new school twice over the past two years and been shot down both times, he said.


Schools require two things: land and students.


Guénard said that the municipality must supply the land for a new school. A large school with three classes per grade level – like Grand Boisé – needs to be built on about six acres of land within an urban perimeter.


Lacasse said that the education ministry won’t grant a request for a new school until there’s enough students to fill two classes per grade.