Two portables being built at École Willows School missed another projected completion date, leaving two classes to cope with ongoing disruptions. The portables were alloted by the Greater Victoria School District to accommodate the growing number of students in the catchment and to meet mandated smaller class sizes.
The portables were originally scheduled to be finished in time for the start of the new school year in September 2017. That date was pushed back to Thanksgiving due to supply issues. Thanksgiving has come and gone and while work continues on the portables, they are far from finished.
The two classes destined for the portables have been sharing the Willows gym for the last six weeks, a less than ideal learning environment with excessive noise and distraction.
“The situation in the gym is untenable,” says Dr. Stephen Ross, parent of a child in one of the disrupted classes. “It constitutes at the very least a failure to provide adequate working conditions for our teachers. More importantly, it is detrimental to our children’s learning. There is a growing sense that the students are falling behind in some of the academic aspects of the curriculum, and that they will have to play catch-up in the new year. This is unacceptable. There are solutions to these problems and you need to deploy them now.”
A teacher’s recent email sent to parents of the two classes suggests that construction work could last for another month or two. As the gym was never intended as a long-term solution, Willows teachers and staff have had to come up with a new temporary solution: one of the two classes moves into the school library next week.
While it is a difficult situation for the two classes in limbo, the whole school is feeling the effects. First, they lost their gym access, and now their library as well.
The school district has yet to announce a new projected completion date. As of the time of publication, the school district has not returned Oak Bay News’ requests for more information.
UPDATED: The Greater Victoria School District has responded to Oak Bay News’ requests for updated information.
The structural components of the Willows portables are now complete. The exterior has some work left to be done. The project is now waiting on the HVAC system and electrical. The District has cited a lack of labour availability in Victoria as well as supply delays for the project running past deadline.
A new completion date has been added to the SD61 website stating: “Students will be in their new space no later than November 13, 2017.”