The former Burnside Elementary School is getting set to return to its roots next year as the school district continues with major seismic upgrades to various schools throughout the region.
The board of education recently approved the former school at Jutland Road be used as the Burnside Education Centre, which will provide classroom and programming space in the 2017/2018 school year for the majority of students and teachers at the SJ Willis Education Centre.
Located on Topaz Avenue, the SJ Willis Education Centre will be used as transition space for a number of secondary schools slated to undergo major seismic upgrades in the next five to 10 years.
According to Greater Victoria School District Superintendent Piet Langstraat, the district has been using Richmond Elementary School as a transition space for the last few years and housed students from Cloverdale School last year during their upgrades. But now the district is moving onto bigger schools and simply needs more space.
“When you’re talking about moving 1,300 students, there’s a lot of things to think about,” said Langstraat, noting the district has been upgrading the smaller schools until now.
“The seismic upgrading to a large facility, we haven’t done for quite some time. Sometimes you’re able to actually keep students on campus and do part of a building and move them around, but for these projects we’ll have to move the entire school.”
The next five schools that have been listed as a priority are Campus View Elementary School, Victoria High School, Cedar Hill Middle School, Braefoot Elementary School and Shoreline Community School.
Phase one of the upgrades to Victoria High have already been completed and phase two is scheduled to begin in early 2018 with an estimated cost of $19 million.
Macaulay Elementary School in Esquimalt is also on the remaining list of 10 schools, but does not have an anticipated start date. The total cost to upgrade the remaining 10 schools is pegged at $82 million. None of them, however, have had formal approval from the Ministry of Education.
Langstraat said the upgrades are major structural work that involves building a concrete and steel skeleton inside and outside of the building. At Cloverdale, all of the foundation was dug up, blocking access to the building.
The remainder of high risk schools in the district have already been completed, including Quadra Elementary School, Central Middle School, Margaret Jenkins Elementary School, James Bay Community, South Park Elementary and Victoria West Elementary.
Built in 1912, the Burnside Elementary School was closed in 2006 due to declining enrolment and has been leased to the Burnside Gorge Community Association for community programs since that time.
The Burnside Education Centre will offer continuing education for adult learners, distributed learning and alternative education programs. Alternative programming has approximately 145 students in a given year and continuing education programs fluctuate with about 150 students who may attend courses during the day, but serves 750 students per year.