High school bells won’t be ringing in White City in the immediate future, Regina-Wascana Plains MLA Christine Tell told a disappointed White City town council during its regular meeting Monday.
Tell, first elected in 2007, noted the need for a southeast Regina high school — which is being prioritized — was already present when she sought her first provincial election win.
“I recognize the challenges of having a high school in southeast Regina and the impact on this community and the (RM of Edenwold) because people are moving their kids and people will be sending their kids either there or Balgonie,” Tell said. “But the one in southeast Regina can’t be left any longer.”
While southeast Regina’s long wait for a high school had reached a critical stage, councillor Hal Zorn noted White City’s wait for local secondary education goes back to at least 1985.
“It’s sometimes amazing how decisions are made when there are all kinds of high schools in Regina but there’s none out here,” he said.
Councillor Scott Moskal was “extremely disappointed” there was no provincial government commitment pending for a White City-based high school.
“We have kids from Emerald Park, we have kids from White City, we have kids from all the rural surrounding areas attending two elementary schools here,” Moskal said. “There’s portables attached to those schools. This brand new one that’s five years old already has three portables on it.”
Moskal added the provincial government should prepare for a high school in White City before its name reflects reality.
“This will be the only city in this province without a high school, and to hear the City of Regina is going to get priority over this area is very disheartening,” Moskal said. “I would expect the province to allow people from this community to attend that high school in southeast Regina, or at least have the option to.”
But that decision isn’t solely in the hands of the provincial Ministry of Education in this case, but Prairie Valley School Division.
“The school divisions send their priority lists to the Ministry of Education, and it’s from there that decisions are made,” Tell said.
While no White City high school made it on the funding list, Tell said there is a provincial commitment to build a new elementary school.
“My comment on that always is if you have enough elementary schools, those kids are eventually going to be going to a high school,” Tell said. “Next year is another year and I can’t say that a high school won’t be on the agenda. I can’t say that. I’m just talking about right now. There’s no doubt in my mind once this area is considered a city, there are major benefits. That’s just one of them and I’d love to see that here.”
Mayor Bruce Evans said while elementary schools in White City are bursting at the seams, Balgonie’s Greenall High School had not exceeded the required capacity threshold to expedite construction of another high school.
“That’s the reason there is talk about a new elementary school, because they are over capacity already,” Evans said. “Having said that, (PVSD’s) number one priority is still the high school. It’s in competition with a school in Regina. I don’t envy you because you represent both areas.”
Evans added students near Regina’s southeastern city boundary also have lengthy commutes to Campbell High School and Miller High School.
“If I can add one thing to this debate about the high school that there was going to be a study on a location for a high school,” Evans said. “The difference here is we have the land, we have identified where it should be and (the high school is) to be part of a joint-use recreation facility so we can provide gymnasiums, which should bump us up the priority list.”
Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum