To answer the call of population growth, four new schools are coming to Simcoe County.

The Ministry of Education has announced capital funding for the elementary schools, which will be located at Alliston, Bradford, Wasaga Beach and Oro-Medonte. In all, Queen’s Park is handing over $45 million for the Simcoe County projects, which also include child-care spaces and additions.

Representatives from both the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board and the Simcoe County District School Board say the funding comes as much needed relief to educational systems that are bursting at the seams as families move out of the Greater Toronto Area and development grows along the southern part of the county.

Pauline Stevenson, communications manager of the Catholic board, said the funds earmarked for the Alliston school go a long way to relieve the pressure on existing facilities. The new school is expected to house 470 students plus provide space for 49 youngsters in child care rooms.

“This will help accommodate the needs of families now, but also in the days and years to come as development continues,” she said.

The board will also receive money for portables as a temporary solution for the continuing enrolment growth at Notre Dame Catholic School in Orillia.

“Many of our communities, especially in the southern areas of our district, are experiencing tremendous growth,” said Carol Corriveau-Truchon, Catholic board chair. “Today’s funding announcement will help relieve some of the pressures in the Alliston community and I know they will be excited to begin the process of planning for this new school.”

Brian Jeffs, public school board superintendent of business and facility services, said the funding for the schools in Bradford, Oro-Medonte and Wasaga Beach certainly come as welcome news, particularly for a community like Bradford which is experiencing unprecedented growth. He said all three schools were at the top of the priority list for board. “This is where we need it most,” he said.

The Bradford school will accommodate 501 students plus space for childcare. In Wasaga Beach there will be room for 406 students and at Oro-Medonte the school will house 357 children. Both Wasaga Beach and Oro-Medonte schools will include space for child care programs.

In addition, the public board also received provincial funding to support two child care projects at Lake Simcoe Public School in Innisfil and Pine River Elementary School in Angus.

“We are pleased that the ministry has recognized the need in our communities,” says Peter Beacock, public board chairperson. “The addition of three new elementary schools will allow us to accommodate students in areas which continue to experience growth and development.”

While the Ministry of Education has provided the funds, the work is only just beginning for the school boards as they now must work through the process of purchasing land, drawing up designs and, ultimately, constructing the schools, among other things. If all things go according to plan, the new schools should open in time for classes in 2020.