Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education is indicating fewer portable classrooms will be needed at three joint-use school sites in Regina when the buildings open in 2017 than was previously reported this week.
On Wednesday during question period, the opposition NDP referenced documents the party had obtained that showed 68 portable classrooms would be required over the next five years for nine new public-private partnership (P3) school sites spread out over Regina, Saskatoon, Warman and Martensville.
Of those portables, 30 were expected to be located in the Queen City in three neighbourhoods: Harbour Landing, Greens on Gardiner and Coopertown. A total of 22 portables would be in use when the schools first open, another eight would be needed by 2021.
Later in the week, the ministry explained those numbers were based on previous estimates and that new, updated figures were available.
Sheldon Ramstead, the ministry’s executive director of infrastructure, said that in 2017 a total of 10 portable classrooms would be needed – eight in Habour Landing and two within the Greens on Gardiner neighbourhood.
“Each year after that we’ll work with school division on their enrolment estimates and see what the requirements will be,” Ramstead explained.
Right now that would mean six more portable classrooms in 2018 and then another two in 2020.
NDP Leader Cam Broten said when the schools open they’ll already be overcrowded.
“I don’t think a portable classroom is the best learning environment we can give our kids,” he explained, calling them cookie cutter P3 schools and referring to the overall initiative as a costly P3 rent-a-school scheme.
Ramstead also clarified that each portable – or relocatable – has traditionally cost roughly $325,000. However, he said that’s not covered in the fixed-price contract to build the schools themselves.
The province previously announced the entire 18-elementary school project — divided evenly between public and Catholic across nine joint-use sites — would cost a total of $374 million to build.
“Relocatables are an additional cost,” he indicated.
Quick math shows if there are 18 portables needed in Regina from 2017 to 2021, that would add on another $5.85 million to the overall cost of the project. Cost associated with portables in Saskatoon, Warman and Martensville would get tacked on to the $374 million figure as well.
Ramstead insisted at this point the ministry’s figures are estimations and numbers could change.