WATCH: Schools on the West Shore continue to face the squeeze thanks to a growing number students so, despite the province spending more than $50 million on capital projects in the Sooke School District in the past year, the only short-term solution is adding even more portables. Luisa Alvarez reports.
David Cameron Elementary School in Colwood already has one portable and it’s going to get another. But it’s just one of three other schools this year needing the structures to keep up with the growing number of students each year.
SD62 Trustee Ravi Parmar said two portables will be added at Belmont Secondary School, one at Journey Middle School and one at Wishart Elementary School as well.
And they aren’t cheap, costing the district anywhere from $250,000 – $300,000 per portable.
Parmar said that in itself is a challenge.
“We don?t get extra money for that that comes out of the operating funding,” said Parmar.
The province has already committed a total of $55.1 million for several land purchases to build new elementary schools and middle schools as well as an extension to Royal Bay Secondary School.
On Tuesday, the school board will be considering the capital plan, which looks at cost and size of the schools to be built on the purchased land. Once approved, it will go straight to the province.
“We are hopeful maybe by the end of this year and early 2019 we will get some word that maybe we are going to get some money and we can start building soon after that,” said Parmar.
In the meantime, the new normal is portable classrooms because the number of students is increasing faster than schools are being built. And the pace is alarming. SD62 projects upwards of 37,00 to 4,000 new students over the next ten years.
“That?s about 350 to 400 students per year each year for the next ten years and we are actually projecting 520 just for this September,” said Parmar.
The Sooke school district is the fastest growing district per capita in the entire province. SD62 superintendent Jim Cambridge says the district is currently running at about 100 to103 per cent capacity.
“Some schools are under and some are over. We can do that for a little while but we obviously need to keep going because we aren?t stagnant we are continuing to grow every year,” said Cambridge.
Parmar said a new secondary school will also be needed in the West Shore sometime in the near future.
“Priority number two on our capital plan is to buy land for a new secondary school,” said Parmar.