Once again, the Sooke School District says it is experiencing record growth.
The District said in a news release that September enrolment increased by 310 students between Kindergarten and Grade 12 this year, bringing the total number of students in SD62 to 11,142. The increase shows a growth rate of three per cent, or the equivalent of one elementary school’s worth of students.
The District’s long-range enrolment estimates show a growth rate of almost 27 per cent over the next nine years.
“Our District staff do an excellent job in predicting the growth, managing it in the short-term through such things as portables and interior space renovations, and planning long-term for new property acquisitions and new school builds,” said SD62 superintendent Scott Stinson in a statement.
School Board chair and SD62 trustee Ravi Parmar credits new developments on the West Shore for growth in the school district.
“The new developments are bribing people to move out here to the West Shore,” Parmar said. “Not only is it affordable but there are a lot of opportunities when it comes to recreation, play spaces, theatre and the arts…there are spaces for kids during the day and community spaces in the evenings.”
Parmar said the board and District are working hard to ensure new schools are built on time and on budget.
Planning is underway for two new schools – one elementary school and one middle school – in west Langford with construction starting next summer. Doors for both schools are expected to be open in September 2022.
“It usually takes five to seven years for the design and construction of new schools but thanks to an expedited process, with cooperation from local municipalities, the province and District staff, our Board of Education will be able to open our two newest schools in just about two-and-a-half years,” Parmar said.
In the coming months, there will be opportunities for consultation with the community while they move forward with plans for the new schools.
“The priority is not for kids to be in portables but to be in new schools,” Parmar said. “We’re making the case to the [Ministry of Education] that we know how to spend their money appropriately, on time and on budget.”
Great progress is happening on the 600 seat expansion at #RoyalBay Secondary School. The Board of Education looks forward to opening this expanded school in September to 2020! @SD62_Sooke #SD62 @cityofcolwood #Colwood pic.twitter.com/M1lZGOQXnl
— Ravi Parmar (@rparmarSD62) October 29, 2019
The expansion to Royal Bay Secondary is also nearly complete and SD62 has purchased land for a new secondary school on McCallum Road. The District’s long-range facilities plan includes an expansion to Edward Milne Secondary School in Sooke as well as four more new elementary schools in the coming years.
The Sooke School District is also looking for input from the community on names for the new schools in Langford. Community members can participate in the naming process by visiting sd62.bc.ca/2019/10/15/give-us-your-thoughts/. Participation is open until Nov. 1.