South Island school districts turn to portables for more space


WATCH: Several South Island school districts are turning to portables to create new classrooms before classes begin. Isabelle Raghem reports.  

It’s a summer of drilling and hammering at school grounds across the province.

“We haven’t had a summer like it, in that there’s so much to get done and so many classrooms to get done for September,” said Mark Walsh, secretary-treasurer for the Greater Victoria School District.

The crunch to create more space comes from last year’s Supreme Court ruling to restore 2002 class sizes and composition.

“We’re trying to get 84 classrooms that didn’t exist six months ago,” said Walsh Thursday, “It’s something completely new.”

School districts on the South Island are turning to portables to fill that void.

The Greater Victoria District is adding 13 portables at eight schools. Four are being added in the Saanich School District. The Sooke School District will see 22 new portables by the start of the school year.

Sooke School District Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull said they’ll be doubling their number of portables in one summer.

“Trying to get 22 portables around ten to eleven different sites is a challenge as well, it’s not a certain project at a certain location where we can dedicate the resources. It’s throughout the district,” said Cull Thursday.

Three portables now stand at Dunsmuir Middle School in Colwood, where crews worked on wiring and plumbing Thursday.

And crews at Spencer Middle School in Langford laid down the ground work Thursday afternoon before four portables arrive Friday.

The Sooke School District estimates each portable cost about $250,000. A cost covered by the province.

The Greater Victoria School Board is using the opportunity to test their own pilot project. They are trying to cut down the cost of portables to $150,000 by building them in-house.

“We’ve something got the expertise,” said Walsh on Thursday. “We thought building our own portables would be a smart thing to try.”

Both the Sooke and Greater Victoria School Districts say new teachers have been hired for the additional classrooms but new substitute teachers will need to be hired in the upcoming months to fill a now bare on-call list.

Isabelle RaghemIsabelle Raghem

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