Wednesday August 10, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC [Latest update 12:35 pm on August 11, 2022]
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
This is a glitch no one wanted. The long-planned-for new SD62 middle school in the Westhills area of Langford won’t open on time in September 2022. Occupancy is now expected in early November.
Today Sooke School District 62 (SD62) announced that Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School (CML) won’t open at the start of the 2022-2023 school year. The intended September 6 start date (the Tuesday after the Labour Day long weekend) is being pushed to an undetermined future date, though the school district is aiming for “early November”.
Supply chain & labour shortages:
The problem? Supply chain issues with construction materials. And labour shortages.
Supply chain issues actually began in 2020 during the pandemic, when the international shipment of some steel beams was delayed.
Reportedly now, some windows incoming from a supplier in the United States are behind schedule, and this reportedly would lead the City of Langford “engineering” department to not allow for an occupancy permit for September, according to a CTV news report August 10.
SD62 says that also some fire suppression materials for the new middle school are behind on the delivery schedule.
City of Langford input:
Meanwhile on August 11, Island Social Trends has inquired with the City of Langford manager of building services Wayne Robinson who says that the city has not yet been approached by the school board, construction professionals or architect for a final inspection.
Labour shortages are rampant throughout the Greater Victoria region, as housing and other projects are trying to move ahead full bore and all builders are seeking materials and parts for their projects.
Robinson concurs. He says that many construction projects in Langford are “suffering from supply chain issues”, saying “it’s the way of the world right now”. That’s due to interruptions first during the COVID pandemic and this year with interruptions related to the war in Ukraine piled on top of that, as well as the skyrocketing cost of inflation causing delays for covering costs of manufacturing and shipping. He adds: “There are labour shortages across the board.”
“We understand this delay postpones the excitement of our students and staff who were set to move into the new school,” it was stated in an SD62 news release this morning.
“District staff and school leadership have developed a robust contingency plan to accommodate students and staff in the interim,” says SD62.
Locations for the start of school on September 6, 2022 will be Spencer Middle School in Langford for Grade 6 students, Pexsisen Elementary School (at 3100 Constellation Ave, next door to Centre Mountain Lellum | see construction & design info) for Grade 7 students, and Dunsmuir Middle School in Colwood for Grade 8’s.
That will lead to a bit of crowding at those other three schools, where classroom space is already at a premium. This is how Centre Mountain Lellum students will be accommodated elsewhere during September into November 2022:
- Grade 6 students and teachers will be in the 9 portables at Spencer Middle School.
- Grade 7 students and teachers will be in 6 rooms available at Pexsisen Elementary School (the new elementary school built beside CML); Pexsisen was built for growth and has available extra space at this time.
- Grade 8 students and teachers will be in the 6 portables at Dunsmuir Middle School.
Pexsisen at 3100 Constellation Avenue is a two-storey building designed to seat 500 elementary grade students. Further back on the hill, Centre Mountain Lellum is a three-storey building designed to seat 700 students.
Child care at Pixsisen:
Pexsisen includes a new child care facility upon which teachers and the broader community will depend for child care services.
The Ministry of Education earlier this year changed over to being now the Ministry of Education and Child Care; that announcement was made February 8, 2022 and is quite an expansion of responsibility for school districts.
The delivery of child care through BC schools is part of the provincial government’s new strategy to ‘help families get ahead’ by supporting them with child care services.
Notifications out to families:
Notifications of the delay went out to affected school staff yesterday and — this morning by email — to families registered to attend Centre Mountain Lellum, Pexsisen and Spencer.
Families who were registered in another district in June or have recently registered to attend school in SD62 may not have received an email notification due to rollover times for MyEducationBC accounts.
Information has been posted on social media and the SD62 website for families that may have missed the notification. Various news media outlets have also worked on getting this info out to families and the surrounding communities.
Centre Mountain Lellum students who are already signed up SD62 bus transportation will be taken to the designated temporary off-site school location (Dunsmuir or Spencer); new routes are being set up by SD62 for that.
Students local in Westhills who were going to walk to the new Centre Mountain Lellum will be able to ride on temporary transfer (shuttle) buses, from CML to whichever school they are temporarily attending this fall.
Students are welcome to find their own way to school during this temporary two to three-month phase of disruption.
Principals by email:
Darren Russell is the Principal for Centre Mountain Lellum; he says he expects to have a regular presence at all three schools each week. There are two CML vice principals: Pam Gerrits will be located at Spencer Middle School and Glenn Bedard will be located at Dunsmuir Middle School. Details about the transition are posted on the Centre Mountain Lellum website.
School principals at each school location will communicate additional details in the coming days and weeks with families via email.
Parents and guardians at the affected schools (Centre Mountain Lellum, Spencer Middle, Pexsisen Elementary, Dunsmuir Middle) who are not receiving emails about this interruption may contact SD62 by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to update their contact information.
SD62 says that the same teachers hired to teach at CML will be with their same students throughout the 2022-2023 academic year. See Centre Mountain Lellum staff list.
“Safety is paramount at the district,” it was stated today by SD62. Farmer Construction is working toward completing the Centre Mountain Lellum building as a safe and secure learning environment, said SD62.
Farmer Construction lists the Pexsisen/Centre Mountain project on their website with a 2022 completion date.
Fast growing west shore:
Sharing the same plot of hillside land on Constellation Avenue in the Westhills neighbourhood of Langford, the new Centre Mountain Lellum and Pexsisen Elementary Schools have been in the works for years, in response to increasing population in the west shore.
The 6.5 hectare (16-acre) land purchase within the Westhills development took place in December 2017, with $23.3 million in funding as provided to SD62 by the Ministry of Education. The steep grade of the land meant a lower purchase price but a higher development cost. In December 2018, land clearing started for the new schools. Construction began in 2019.
The building design of the two new schools was announced in March 2020. Construction has had to deal with COVID-related impacts (e.g. supply chain interruptions, worker safety, etc) during 2020 onward.
Langford is a fast-growing municipality, driven by the relatively lower cost of housing compared to much of the urban areas of Greater Victoria.
SD62 expects over 12,000 students to start school in their district this fall. SD62 is set up to deliver public education to families in Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Metchosin, Highlands, East Sooke and west of Sooke to Port Renfrew.
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Cert PR, has been reporting on SD62 news at the board and committee level since 2014.
Ms Brooke has steered a series of publications about the west shore since 2008 (MapleLine Magazine 2008-2010, Sooke Voice News 2011-2013, West Shore Voice News 2014-2020, and now Island Social Trends since mid-2020).
Mary is the mother of four now-adult children who attended schools in SD61, SD62 and SD72 over the years.
See the Island Social Trends SD62 News Archive for articles going back several years.