Thursday July 7, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated 9:30 am]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
At their June 28, 2022 public board meeting, the Sooke School District (SD62) Board of Education approved the 2022-23 Major Capital Plan Submission.
This might sound like an accounting report, but it’s a big deal as to indicating how the SD62 school district will grow and be supported in that growth.
Knowing their schools:
Trustees used to hold their board and education of the whole meetings in the various schools around the district. In recent years board meetings and committee meetings are held in the central administration office board room where IT services are fully available. For the most part they rely on detailed reports from their Facilities staff as the way to stay on top of school facility conditions.
SD62 schools are physically located in Langford, Colwood and Sooke, as well as the elementary school in Port Renfrew.
SD62 schools serve the children of families in Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Metchosin, Highlands and Juan de Fuca (which includes East Sooke and west of Sooke out to Port Renfrew).
New schools, upgrades, modernizations:
The submission prioritizes district-wide needs for new school construction, seismic upgrades, modernizations, and replacements from the provincial government. The SD62 Board of Education says it acknowledges that new schools as well as improvements and additions to the current SD62 schools are critical for keeping pace with surging population growth in the west shore region.
“Building new schools in our rapidly growing communities is essential, but it is not enough to meet our responsibility to deliver high-quality learning experiences for all of our students,” says SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar.
Responding to housing growth & child care expansion:
SD62 is one of the fastest growing school districts per capita in BC. This is driven almost entirely by the efforts of the City of Langford and the City of Colwood to provide more housing within the Greater Victoria region. Housing construction has also increased in the District of Sooke region in recent years.
All schools are essentially bursting at the seams. Portables are used where required. Royal Bay Secondary — which was relieved of its portables when a 600-seat expansion was completed a few years ago, may need those portables back again in the coming year, it was stated at an SD62 committee meeting this spring.
Earlier this year, the BC Ministry of Education was adapted to now be the Ministry of Education and Child Care. The K-12 school system is now required to oversee and provide service delivery space for child care. That puts pressures on facility space in a fast-growing school district like SD62.
New school arrangement considered for Port Renfrew:
Regarding Port Renfrew Elementary, which is on the list for a seismic upgrade:
“One of the highlights from the submission is the request for a seismic replacement that would see a partnership between the Sooke School District and Pacheedaht Nation to build a K-12 campus in Port Renfrew,” says Parmar.
SD62 says that a Port Renfrew campus “would drastically improve access for Grade 5-12 students by offering education in their home community”. That includes saving the kids having to ride a school bus for three or more hours each school day in order to reach the nearest middle or secondary school in Sooke (that would be Journey Middle School for Grades 6 to 8, and Edward Milne Community School for Grades 9 to 12).
“This partnership is an example of one of the many collaborative relationships we pursue to improve our communities as a whole,” it was stated in a news release from SD62 at the end of this academic year.
Next school year starts September 6:
The 2021-2022 academic year has now been completed. The next school year starts after Labour Day in September, for the 2022-2023 academic year.
The 2022-2023 SD62 School Calendar is posted on the SD62 website.
Two new schools will open on September 6, 2022 in the Westhills area of Langford: Pexsisen Elementary and Centre Mountain Lellum, which share a footprint on Constellation Avenue.
Trying to stay within catchment:
“As our communities continue to grow, the accommodation pressures on our district become more challenging every year. Without adding new schools or expanding current schools, more students are forced into out-of-catchment schools and that is not ideal,” said Scott Stinson, Superintendent and CEO of the Sooke School District.
“We would like our students to be able to attend schools closer to their homes and at the same time, take financial pressures off of the transportation and portable budget cost associated with temporary measures to accommodate students,” said Stinson last week.
Recent catchment adjustments have been made within the Langford and Colwood families of schools, as the new Pixsisen Elementary and Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School come onstream in Langford. Starting this fall, the French Immersion stream at the high school level is being moved from Belmont Secondary (in Langford) to Royal Bay Secondary (in Colwood) as part of this shift.
Highlights from the Capital Submission Plan:
- New Schools: North Langford Elementary, South Colwood Elementary, North Langford Secondary, Sooke River Elementary
- Seismic: Port Renfrew Elementary, Sooke Elementary
- Replacement: Millstream Elementary (Langford)
- Addition: Ruth King Elementary (Langford)
- Building Envelope: Edward Milne Community School (Sooke)
Ministry has the final say:
The Sooke School District continues to advocate for new projects with the Ministry of Education and Child Care but recognizes that the provincial government determines where and when new schools are built.
Each year, school districts across the province submit a Capital Plan to the Ministry of Education by June 30 for the following year.
Some projects are on the list for several years until they rise to the top or meet overall budget and timeline considerations — such as the building envelope project for EMCS in Sooke.
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke has been writing about SD62 schools since 2014, reporting at the board and committee level. Articles were published in MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), West Shore Voice News (2014-2022) and since mid-2020 within islandsocialtrends.ca .
She has four now-adult children who attended schools in SD61, SD62 and SD72.
Email contact: email@example.com