'Exponential growth' has Sooke district asking for four more schools
Published Friday, October 21, 2016 4:00PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, October 21, 2016 6:34PM PDT
Sooke’s school district is asking for money to build four more schools following a period of explosive growth on the West Shore.
Two new schools just opened in School District 62 last year, but the number of kids registering has shot up dramatically by nearly 1,000 students in two years.
Because of that, the district is asking B.C. to fund three new elementary schools and one middle school.
“We’re not expecting to get four schools in one year, that’s for sure, and we understand the ministry has lots of competing pressures throughout the province,” said Supt. Jim Cambridge. “The difference for the Sooke School District is that we are growing at a very, very rapid pace.”
Parents who live in the region told CTV News that the population is growing at a rapid rate and more schools are needed.
“It’s a growing district and we have more and more kids in this region,” said one parent. “It’s really stressful at registration time. Families who are new to the region aren’t sure if their kids are going to get into the school, and there’s the unknown of where your child is going to end up.”
Sooke’s school district encompasses not only Sooke, but also Colwood and Langford, one of the fastest-growing cities in B.C.
Cambridge said it’s been challenging to deal with such explosive growth, and portables have been brought in at certain schools to house additional students.
A new middle school is the district’s first priority, and with other middle schools in the district already over capacity, it would be filled by the time it’s built, according to Cambridge.
“I think we have the room to meet the growth until we get the builds, but once we get them open, once we’ve done the planning, the design work, the construction of the school, basically those schools would be full,” he said.
The district has yet to acquire additional land to build the schools on, but says it’s looking for parcels throughout the West Shore.
The Ministry of Education is in the process of reviewing capital plans from all 60 school districts in B.C.
SD62 will have to wait until the ministry’s budget is approved next spring to hear whether its requests will be supported.