Sooke school enrolment up for 10th straight year

With enrolment tied to funding, Sooke School District eligible or more provincial money

Student enrolment in the Sooke School District is booming.

At 9,477 students as of Oct. 5, the district saw an increase of 520 students or 5.8 per cent over the 8,957 head count as of Sept. 30, 2015.

In the spring, district staff estimated an enrolment increase of between 300 to 350 students. This is the 10th straight year the district has seen an increase.

But it’s where those students are enrolling that suggests families with school-aged children are still being forced to look for homes outside of Victoria, as the region deals with the ongoing challenge of housing affordability.

“We expected to grow, but to provide space for an extra 200 students make it even more challenging,” said Jim Cambridge, superintendent of schools, adding 30 new teachers were hired to cover the student increase.

There is good news and bad news when it comes to the district’s enrolment.

The good news is enrolment is up higher than expected, which, given the provincial government’s funding formula, means the Sooke district will get more money to hire extra staff.

The bad news is enrolment is up and the already overfull schools will be bursting at the seams.

In the Sooke region, Journey Middle School saw its enrolment jump by 63 students, while Port Renfrew saw its student population drop to six from 15.

Cambridge said the increase in enrolment is showing a need for new schools or renovations in the region.

The district previously announced plans for a new school at Sunriver, expansion of Edward Milne Community School, and renovation or replacement at Sassenos and Sooke elementary.

The district’s long range facilities plan, which studies school building needs, is expected to be tabled by the board of education this month, and once the report comes out, it is expected school trustees will be advocating for more schools.