Growth in Sooke School District prompts proposal to redraw school boundaries
Ruth King Elementary school in Langford is pictured: (CTV News)
VICTORIA -- The West Shore communities of Langford and Colwood are experiencing a significant boost in the population of families with school-age children.
In order to keep pace with the growth, the Sooke School District (SD62) is building two new schools in Langford. To comply with the BC School Act, the district is required to create catchment boundaries for the students who will attend the new elementary and middle schools in the West Hills neighbourhood.
“Where they are being built is in the middle of an area that already exists so we have to realign our catchment boundaries to be able to pull some enrolment from other schools,” said Sooke School District superintendent Scott Stinson. “We need to be able to fill [the new schools] and prepare for the growth in the district over the next while.”
Stinson says SD62 continues to grow two to three per cent annually, so building the new schools is a tremendous benefit to the district.
The district will begin the catchment review process with a virtual town hall meeting to present a proposal that will redraw the school catchment boundaries. The online meeting will give families an opportunity to explore the proposed changes and offer feedback to the district.
“We recognize that it is hard for people to see the change that is necessary and that their current school may not be the catchment school when these new schools are built,” said Stinson. “We are working on addressing those issues and making sure that there is a process for families to be able to stay if they want to, but also transition and fill the new schools.”
Stinson says that one of the largest benefits of realigning the catchment is that it will take pressure off of some schools that have large student populations.
Currently, the superintendent says that the school district is using multiple portables, which are temporary classrooms for students.
“This will create permanent space and (we will) be able to move some of those portables off of our school sites,” he said.
Stinson says building the two schools and redrawing the catchment boundaries will bring the numbers down in schools to a level that is more manageable and therefore better for students. He goes on to say that another benefit to the realignment of the school catchment boundaries is that it will likely create new neighbourhoods around the new schools.
“One of the lenses we are using when we look at these catchment proposals is to make our schools more walkable so that more people don’t have to get into a vehicle or get on a bus to get to school,” said Stinson.
“We do want to make the schools the hub of their community so hopefully the changes that we are proposing allow that to be created for each of our schools,” he said.
Stinson emphasizes that the virtual town hall is just the first step in the catchment review process. After the virtual meeting there will be a “thought exchange” which will be an opportunity for people to bring forth their ideas.
“We are consulting with our community now because we think it’s a good way to balance the numbers across our schools,” said Stinson. “We want to hear from our community to make sure that our assumptions are correct.”
The virtual town hall meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28. To participate in the meeting or for information on the proposed school catchment review visit the school district’s website here.
The new SD62 catchment boundaries will not go into effect until the new schools are open to students in the fall of 2022.