While the Sooke School District has experienced a steady increase in enrolment over the past decade, Sooke’s numbers have remained relatively stable.
When comparing enrolment figures between 2014 and 2018, the largest growth was at the elementary school level.
Sooke Elementary’s student population increased from 251 to 320. Similarly, Sasseenos went from 113 to 159 and John Muir from 195 to 211.
Only Pourier Elementary School saw a drop during that same period, going from a 2014 enrolment of 431 to 387 in 2018.
At the middle school level, Journey Middle School experienced a slight enrolment decrease, dropping from 477 students in 2014 to 462 last year.
At Edward Milne, enrolment also decreased significantly, dropping from 625 in 2014 to 574 in 2018.
No numbers were available for the current school year.
Schools superintendent Scott Stinson said enrolment growth in Langford and the West Shore have outpaced Sooke, but added that while some fluctuations will occur, those decreases are not indicative of an overall trend in Sooke.
“In fact, our long-range facilities plan speaks to a new elementary school in the SunRiver area,” Stinson said.
“Of course that’s all factored on enrolment growth, but I can tell you that we’ve seen steady growth in general enrolment over the past decade.”
Stinson added that the School District’s growth of four per cent annually is one of the fastest-growing enrolments per capita in B.C.
Those increases pose challenges for the district in terms of available classrooms as well as the staffing and equipment requirements resulting from increased enrolment.
“We have to look at questions like whether increased enrolment means that we have to add another classroom, for example,” Stinson said.
He said if classroom requirements exceed available space, portable classrooms have been brought in the past, but even that solution can be problematic.
“The Ministry [of Education] does not fund portables in the way it funds capital construction. We’ve had to pay out $2.5 million for portables in recent years in the school district, and that’s funding that can’t be spent on other aspects of education.”
But Stinson is philosophic about the growing enrolment numbers and the challenges they represent.
“It’s way better to be growing than declining. As challenging as it is, it’s a far more positive mindset.”