Too many students and not enough space

Lack of space at Sooke Elementary school prompts the addition of an extra portable.

Sooke Elementary School is overflowing with students.

The school saw as many as 40 more students register this month, compared to last June.

The result? Two classes are being taught in the school’s library.

“The library is not a bad place to learn. I’m more concerned about the rest of the kids in the school having access to the library,” said Sooke School District superintendent Jim Cambridge.

This is not the first time the school’s library has became a makeshift classroom, after a fire damaged part of the building last year.

Cambridge said the space issue is already being addressed, with a portable classroom already in the works for the school – though he noted that won’t actually be added until at least December.

Despite the overcrowding issue, Cambridge said this is good news for the district, as growth in student population like this hasn’t been seen for a long while.

“This is sustained growth, so it’s worthwhile us investing into it, and it also gives us an opportunity to make a case to the government for a new school, as we are now able to demonstrate that a new school is required,” he said.

Ironically, both Sooke and Saseenos elementary were once considered for closure because there weren’t enough students to fill the classrooms.

Still, the possibility of more students in local schools was known months ago, said Ian Johnson, president of the Sooke Teachers’ Association.

“It was on the radar back in spring, and we were anticipating there might be some overcrowding issues,” he said.

“We are one of the few school districts in the province that is actually growing, and projections were made a decade ago by the Sooke School District about growth in the area.”

Johnson estimated that the rate of growing student numbers in the school district has increased to about 100 a year. This includes teacher membership, which increased from just under 500 teachers 10 to 15 years ago to just shy of 600 now.

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