If the Beautiful Plains School Division (BPSD) has its latest ‘wish' granted, Neepawa could be seeing a middle school added in the community within the next few years. The school division has submitted its annual five-year capital plan for the Public School Finance Board and atop its request 'wish list' is a new middle school for Neepawa. The capital plan includes a list of any major renovations, construction, additions and related costs the division is requesting the province to assist with, and the new school is number one on the list, BPSD superintendent Jason Young confirmed last week. “This year a new middle school in Neepawa was our first priority,” Young said. “The request for a new school is based on the growing enrollment in our Neepawa schools.” The province considers all requests from the school divisions, prioritizes them all together, and decides which projects it can help fund in the coming years. Putting the middle school atop the BPSD’s ‘wish list’ doesn’t guarantee a new school will be built, but it does point to how strongly the Division feels Neepawa needs the new facility. “We are up approximately 70 students from this time last year (in Neepawa schools) and we are continuing to see steady growth,” Young said. “This, paired with the provincial Kindergarten to Grade 3 size cap at 20 students – which we have five years to achieve - minimal room for expansion at our Neepawa schools, and our Neepawa schools approaching capacity, are some of the main factors that led to the request.” As it is right now, Hazel M. Kellington needs three additional rooms to be compliant with the class size cap initiative. Within two years, the BPSD is anticipating there will be a need for between seven to 10 classrooms just for Kindergarten to Grade 3 students. Those expectations are, in part, connected to the increase in immigration to Neepawa catalyzed by HyLife’s expansion. That eventual population increase may also attract even more families to Neepawa as the economy creates more employment - including a need for more teachers - which all leads back to the need for more educational space. “Our plans are very preliminary. Initial thoughts would be that a new school would be a middle school for Grades 5-8,” Young said. “This would free up needed space at both of the Neepawa schools.” There is no exact timeline for when the new school would be built but with its urgent need clear, the BPSD has requested to have it approved by the Government this school year. Planning for the school’s design, location and then its eventual construction would all become a multi-year process. “We have discussed a few different options for potential locations of a new school...our preference would be to keep a new school in a central location,” Young said. The Government would fund the project if it was approved, with the BPSD only paying extra costs if it decides to add a component outside of the basic project’s scope. There is also a public meeting scheduled for Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. in NACI’s multi-purpose room where information regarding the requested middle school will be further discussed and additional questions will be addressed.