Back-to-school crunch: Lansdowne Middle School classrooms not ready for students

WatchSchool is back is session next Tuesday, and while most parents are expecting their kids will be in a class, some 40 plus students at Lansdowne Middle School will not have a classroom to go to. Kori Sidaway has more on what's behind the delays, and who will be affected.

As some teachers get last-minute deliveries, some won’t have a classroom.

“I think it all looks a bit of mess inside, certainly not ready,” said Winona Waldron, president of the Greater Victoria Teachers Association.

Two overflow classrooms at the nearby Artemis Place were promised to be ready for Lansdowne Middle School students by September.

“The expectation is that everybody will have a classroom, and what’s going to happen is two of the grade 8 classes will be displaced from the classrooms because they are not ready yet,” said Waldron.

But after the discovery of asbestos and necessary fire safety upgrades, that September deadline is impossible.

Now, two Lansdowne Grade 8 classes will go back-to-school in either a learning resources centre or counselling room.

“It’s no surprise that in an old building more needs to be done than expected. That happens every time so at some point, you should come to expect that,” said Waldron.

But, at the root of the issue? The Greater Victoria Teachers Association say it’s not bad planning, it’s actually the building crunch.

Labourers are in high demand across the region and the Greater Victoria School District isn’t offering competitive wages to lure those workers to make sure construction deadlines are met.

The Greater Victoria School District offers red seal carpenters just over $30/hour, plus 11% in lieu of benefits.

The base rate though? According to local construction companies, the baseline is $35/hour for ticketed red seal carpenters, and no one wants a wage cut.

“I think the district really needs to look at what kind of wages it’s paying and how to attract trained personnel,” said Waldron.

The Teachers Association is expecting the redrawing of the catchment boundaries to relieve some pressure next year. But for this year, it’ll be tight.

The best-case scenario would see the Grade 8 students in their classrooms in a month, but the Association says unforeseen delays could push back that timing even further.

CHEK News did reach out to the Greater Victoria School District but did not hear back for comment.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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