Tuesday September 2 – First Day of School

Trystan and Owen started back to school today.  Alun just had to go in to have his picture taken and to pick up his timetable.  Megan did that last week.  It was back to elementary school for Trystan.

When we opened our front door this morning Owen’s friend Emma was walking by with her mother.

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When we first moved to our current house one of the reasons we chose it was because it was within walking distance of one of the few K-8 schools in the Brampton public school system.  However, when Megan was in Grade 4 the school board decided to create a middle school for Grades 6-8 to relieve crowding.  They held a parent meeting which was advertised as a consultation meeting and every parent in attendance was against the change.  The superintendent had no significant arguments to convince parents the move made sense.  Weeks later it was announced that the change would take place.

The new middle school was overcrowded.  The elementary school continued to use portables.  The one concrete goal stated for the change was not met.

Megan attended Grades 6-8 at the middle school.  By the time it was Alun’s turn the crowding was so intense at the middle school that the city would not give the school board permission to put any more portables on the property.  Alun stayed at the elementary school for Grade 6.  He then went onto a different middle school for the Middle Years International Baccalaureate program.  When it was Trystan’s turn he stayed at the elementary school for Grade 6 then went on to the middle school for Grade 7.  However, the new school board director (who was the superintendent at that meeting all those years ago) decided to change the schools back to K-8.  Thus, Trystan has to return to his old elementary school.  For Trystan and his friends it feels like a bit of a backwards step.  Owen will be our only child who spends all his K-8 years at the one school.

Additionally, their elementary school is only this year, in the final year possible, implementing full day Kindergarten.  All these changes have led to the school needing an addition.

Now onto my second story of the shortsightedness of the school board.  The school was opened about 1998.  By the time Megan began attending school there in 2001 there was already a “portapak” addition – a section of classrooms attached to the school so the children didn’t have to go outside to get to them, but the rooms were cold in the winter and hot in the summer.  Several years ago an addition was planned for the school because in addition to the portapak there were at least five portables.  The portapak was to be removed and a two storey addition added.  In the end the portapak was bricked over to make it more permanent, and a Kindergarten class and an elevator were added.

At some point last year someone at the board realized that the school needed to be expanded.  It has been known for years that full-day Kindergarten was coming.  It has been known for almost a year that the Grade 7 and 8 children were coming back.  Yet construction didn’t begin until late May.  I can see the school from my bedroom window.  I rarely saw anyone working on the school all summer long.  It is still a construction site and will be for months.

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Getting the children to the correct place this morning was a disaster.  I didn’t get a picture of Trystan before he left the house, but we caught up with him at school where he was trying to get around the construction fence to where he was meant to line up.

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Here the construction fence was place so closely to the Kindergarten fences that there was only about a metre of room to get to a temporarily, due to the construction, dead-end part of the playground.  There were about seven classes along with parents trying to get into and out of this area.  People were going in, finding they were in the wrong place and having to come out again.  Some were making their way in to be told they were in the wrong place to later be told to go back.  It was a disaster.  The first morning is always busy and confusing, but this is the worst I have experienced.

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The other change we are experiencing this year is a switch from short morning and afternoon recesses with a one hour lunch to two forty minute nutrition breaks.  One of the reasons we wanted to live close to the school was so that the children could come home for lunch which they have generally done.  They still can, but it is quite rushed in just forty minutes.

Trystan decided to stay today; Owen decided to home for for the first break.  I went for a 15km bike ride to test my knee, which is still swollen, but not painful to move.  I got back just in time to go to the school to meet Owen.  Unfortunately, we missed each other.  I came through the valley and he went across the school yard.  I looked all over and couldn’t find him.  Alun had to come fetch me to say Owen was at home as I had not taken my phone.  Fortunately, Michael was home and made Owen a grilled cheese sandwich so he could eat and get back to school on time.

It’s going to be a mucky fall until the construction is done.  The multi-use path is blocked and we have to go across the grass playing field or take the longer route through the valley.  It was pouring rain after lunch and when I met Owen so we decided to go through the valley.  However, there had been so much rain that the path was covered deeply enough that the ducks were swimming on it.  We turned around, went back to the school and cut across the field to get home.

Get busy construction workers!

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About Lisa Stokes

I am a stay-at-home mother of four whose hobbies include photography, quilting and cycling. I have recently started to advocate for better cycling infrastructure in my community. I am photographer and librarian at the Brampton Quilters' Guild. I build and maintain a community ice rink in my local park.
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