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Split school site idea to meet baby boom in Southend
A PRIMARY school could split itself over two sites as council chiefs desperately try to find enough spaces for new pupils.
Southend Council is considering expanding St Mary’s Church of England Primary School, in Boston Avenue, into its old base in East Street.
The school moved out of the building several years ago, but council bosses believe using it as a separate annexe could go some way towards solving their space shortage crisis.
The authority needs to find room for an extra 90 pupils a year across the town by 2015 to cope with an ongoing baby boom.
James Courtenay, the Tory councillor responsible for children and learning, said: “We have earmarked £4million for the additional provision of places and we are progressing with plans on how to do that.
“As yet, there has been no decision.
“St Mary’s looks like a good option for allowing us additional pupil places, but the issue with a split site is how it would work.
“Once we have the answers, we will put our recommendations to all members of the council before a final decision is made.”
In November 2010, council chiefs revealed a massive expansion programme was needed at Southend’s primary schools.
Birth rates in the borough have rocketed in recent years, from 1,914 in 2004/05 to 2,232 in 2009/10.
Last year, the Echo revealed the council had set aside £370,000 to buy the Boston Loft flats, which are next St Mary’s school in Sweyne Avenue, demolish them and build a new extension to the school.
Mr Courtenay said that was still an option, but emphasised any decision would have to be made soon to meet the 2015 expansion deadline.
Apart from being used by South Essex College to run some of its course, the East Street building has been empty since the school left it.
Mr Courtenay said: “There is a lot to do in order to meet the deadline, so we hope to make a decision early in the new year.”