WATCH: Victoria schools and schools across BC get ready for smaller classes and increasing enrollment. Tess van Straaten reports.
École Central Middle School teacher Gabe Levesque is getting his classroom ready for the new school year.
“There wasn’t anyone on the second floor so I had my classical music cranked up and I just emptied my cupboards and was cleaning,” says Levesque.
The Grade 7 teacher can’t wait for school to start and this year, with added resources like his new Apple TV, additional supplies and a lot more teachers in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, he’s more excited than ever.
“I think it will be great, smaller classes will be excellent,” Levesque says. “When you have a small class of 20 it becomes just that much better and the one-on-one time with students is magnificent.”
B.C. school districts have had to hire hundreds of teachers over the summer ? a huge undertaking.
“We have filled 160 full-time equivalent teaching positions, which required our human resources department to hire approximately 200 teachers in the space of a few months,” says School District 61 superintendent Piet Langstraat.
But it’s not just teachers ? it’s also infrastructure. Construction crews are rushing to finish a new portable at École Willows Elementary, one of 84 additional classrooms that had to be added in the Greater Victoria School District alone to accommodate smaller class sizes.
It’s putting even more pressure on the system at a time when enrollment is growing.
“We’re going to grow by 330 students roughly, which is interesting because that basically equates to an elementary school,” says Langstraat. “It means we will have more than 20,000 students for the first time in many years.”
It’s a trend echoed across the province, with enrolment in B.C. schools up by more than 4,200 students to almost 538,000 students for the 2017/18 school year.