More portables are coming to West Shore schools this summer.
As the population on the West Shore continues to grow, so does demand for space at local schools. Despite a recent announcement that the province will be providing funding for two new schools in Langford, the Sooke School District is adding portables to some schools as a temporary measure.
SD62 trustee Ravi Parmar said the the District is projecting about 300 to 400 new students next year. To create more space for them, two portables will be added to Wishart Elementary, one to Belmont Secondary, one to Spencer Middle School and one to Millstream Elementary.
Parmar said sometimes more than 400 new students come to the School District in a year, especially if there is a new housing development.
“With the housing crisis, quite a few families are moving to Sooke and Langford and Colwood because the are areas where it’s the most affordable to rent and purchase a home,” Parmar said. “We’re going to continue to do the best we can to build new schools that are on time and on budget but in the meantime we have to add portables.”
Currently, Dunsmuir Middle School has 13 portables and there will be eight at Spencer Middle School come September. The five new portables will bring the total number of portables in SD62 to 59.
In June, the province announced it will be providing $88.6 million for two new schools in Langford — a 500-seat elementary school and 700-seat middle school. Parmar said the elementary school will become the largest in SD62.
Both schools are slotted to open in September, 2022 and SD62 is already working on them with architects and planning officers.
Next year, Parmar said he’s hoping SD62 will be able to convince the province to continue supporting the district’s capital plan which looks at a north Langford secondary school on Skirt mountain and a south Langford elementary school on lands that haven’t been purchased yet. The district is also hoping for new elementary schools in Sooke and Colwood.
Each portable that is being added costs about $300,000 to purchase and set up, Parmar said, but the goal is to make sure there is enough room for kids at schools.
“It’s not a cheap thing to do…it comes out of our operating funding currently,” Parmar said. “But parents shouldn’t be concerned. Obviously our goal is for kids to be within the structure of a school but in the meantime these are nice portables and in some cases they can be a bit nicer than the older school classrooms.”
Parmar stresses the portables are temporary as long as the province continues to fund SD62 and the creation of more schools.
“This is a short term pain for a long term gain,” Parmar said. “Once we start building new schools we’ll be able to remove some of the portables.”