Parents concerned about washroom shortage at overcrowded New West school
Parents in New Westminster are raising concerns about an overcrowded elementary school that they say has a major shortage of bathrooms for students.
Kids and parents at Queen Elizabeth Elementary School in the Queensborough neighbourhood have seen a lot of changes recently as the school expands using portables to house more students than it was originally built for.
"There's certainly been significant growth," said mom Christina Armstrong, who remembers her daughter being in the very first portable outside in Grade 4.
Now, the school has nine.
The building was originally supposed to accommodate a little less than 300 students in kindergarten to Grade 4. But this year there were 421 students and the Parent Advisory Council chair said the projection for September is 465 students.
Among other troubles that the standalone classrooms bring, parents say their key concern is a lack of plumbing. Only some of the out buildings have water connections, and the ones that don't include the two newest portables.
"They have to walk to the bathroom and it's a fair distance to the central school itself," said Bernadette Gourlay, the PAC chair.
She said she's heard stories of little ones not quite making it.
Armstrong said she knows one of the teachers takes her class to the local community centre to use its facilities.
"[She] has her kids all go together as a group and they have to walk to the community centre that's near the school," she said.
Mary Lalji, a schoolboard trustee, said there are discussions with the province about expanding the school itself. But until then, she thinks all the portables should all have plumbing.
"The district has to provide a safe environment for kids and part of that is providing safe accessible washrooms for all of our students," she said.
There are more inconveniences besides a lack of toilets, Gourlay said. Teachers can't do art projects because they don't have sinks and kids can't even wash their hands before lunch.
According to Lalji, district staff will be reporting back to the board on the portable situation at Queen Elizabeth and a decision should be coming by the end of June.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber