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'Bursting at the seams': Schools in Nanaimo, West Shore surpass capacity

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Nicholas Beaudoin is a teacher at École John Stubbs Memorial School in Colwood, one of 29 schools in the Sooke School District.

Beaudoin has done the math and expects his classroom to be at a full capacity with 28 students when the school year begins on Tuesday.

“This is my first homeroom class, but I’m incredibly excited,” Beaudoin said.

Teachers across the entire Sooke School District will likely be teaching full classrooms.

Superintendent Scott Stinson says the district has 100 more students enrolled than expected, 750 more than last year.

“[We are at] 112 per cent capacity across the district,” he says.

The excess numbers have forced the district to move and buy portables for various schools, including at Royal Bay Secondary.

It’s an expense of $1.4 million, and a source of frustration for the district.

“It’s the amount of money that we're putting into portables rather than into the classroom, and you know if that $1.4 million could have gone into the classroom. Rather than purchasing temporary space, it would be a great thing for kids,” he says.

The booming population on the West Shore is expected to continue putting extra strain on staff and resources.

“Next year, and the year after that are going to be big challenges for us,” says Stinson. “It’s going to have some big costs and challenges for us.”

In Nanaimo, there are also more students than predicted, and high schools are getting hit the hardest.

The most crowded of all is Nanaimo District Secondary School, where the district’s secretary treasurer, Mark Walsh, says international enrollment has been capped and the situation is at a crisis point.

“NDSS is bursting at the seams,” said Walsh. “We’ve put two portables there… that’s to go with the portables they already have. It’s built for 1,400 [students]. We're going to be upwards of 1700 at the end of the day,”

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