We’re Growing! We’re Changing!

We’re Growing! We’re Changing!

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you | Contributors: Steve Gallagher | Published: September 6, 2023

In the last five years, the Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) has welcomed nearly 8,000 new students to school. For perspective, that’s enough to fill roughly 365 classrooms or 115 elementary school buses. And since February 1, 2023, HRCE has registered more than 3,400 new students for the fall.

This level of growth comes with one certainty: change.

Every spring, once we have updated registration and enrolment figures, we engage in a process of logistical gymnastics to fit more than 58,000 learners and nearly 12,000 staff safely and comfortably into our 137 schools.

To address unprecedented population growth in many HRM communities, the HRCE has learned to adapt. In the spring of 2023, we announced reconfigurations for 19 schools due to significant enrolment pressures. Over the past five years, we’ve made similar changes at 50 schools. And no change is made lightly. Our goal is to ease enrolment pressures and ensure consistency for the most students for the greatest length of time.

Over the past five years, we’ve opened five new schools, with three more in progress – and more to be announced in the coming year. To bridge the gap, in the meantime we've constructed 141 modular classrooms at 15 schools and shuffled 62 portable classrooms throughout the system to ensure all children have comfortable spaces in which to learn.

Why does this matter to the business community? Increased enrolment numbers lead to pressure on specialized programs, outdoor spaces, recruiting and hiring, and parking and traffic challenges. Our growth matters to everyone.

With a $700m budget, we’re far from a small business, but the ebb and flow in our local communities impacts our operations in much the same way. The school system in Halifax is a microcosm of our city, and as the municipality grows, we grow. As the city is challenged for housing space, we are challenged for learning space. When there are traffic pains, our buses are late, and students lose instructional time. When the price of land and infrastructure goes up, so do our costs.

Growth also brings many positives. For example, with 10 per cent of HRCE’s student population now made up of newcomers, our learning environments become richer and more diverse every day!

As we continue to respond to growth, we look to all of you — as the leaders of our community — to embrace and support change in our schools. Amid the rapid growth and resulting changes, to ensure all students have room to grow and learn, our commitment to a high-quality, inclusive education remains constant.

Follow HRCE’s growth journey at hrce.ca/growth.

Steve Gallagher is the Regional Executive Director of the Halifax Regional Centre for Education.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

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