There are several areas of key focus for the Sooke School District in 2020, says Scott Stinson, superintendent for SD62.
Two years into the Strategic Plan for 2018-2021, Stinson said ensuring there are enough spaces for students is a priority.
“Our challenge is to manage the rapid growth we are faced with on an annual basis,” Stinson said. “We have 300 to 400 new students with growth at just over four per cent annually,” he said. “Making sure we have enough temporary space and portables while working toward long-term space by renovating and adding schools is key.”
A major addition underway at Royal Bay Secondary will increase the school’s capacity from 800 to 1,400 students, making it the largest capacity high school in Vancouver Island, Stinson noted. The $32-million expansion includes 21 classrooms and a third gymnasium and has a completion date of August 2020. Work is underway on a new elementary school and a new middle school as well, with both schools expected to open in 2022.
“There’s day-to-day work that goes along with that,” he explained. Public consultation on naming the new schools, establishing catchment boundaries, identifying which neighbourhoods will feed those schools and how that will affect existing boundaries is ongoing.
Another key focus is ensuring that the learning curriculum as articulated by the Ministry of Education is being implemented.
“We’ve transformed the curriculum,” Stinson said. “The basic difference is the way in which the curriculum is structured has changed. It used to be a thousand facts had to be learned and [learning] involved a lot of memory. Now facts are easily available. We want to enable kids to work with those facts to explore bigger ideas and concepts. The focus is less on remembering facts and more on understanding big ideas.”
How student learning is assessed, evaluated and reported on has changed as well, Stinson noted, citing the new programs for Grade 10, 11, and 12 and what’s required for graduation as examples.
Community engagement is another key goal for the district, Stinson said. “How we are improving engagement capabilities with families, staff, students and community members is key,” he stressed. “How to share information and receive feedback into the work we’re doing, in essence how are we engaging with our community around our work is a big piece of what we’re doing. A lot is going on in the district, and it’s a very exciting time. The opportunities available for learners and their families are incredible.”