A sea of children five years old and younger is swamping the West Shore.
For September 706 students registered for kindergarten in the Sooke School District. It is very close to last years numbers, but in 2008-2009 school year the kindergarten enrolment was 574. The number keeps growing and superintendent Jim Cambridge anticipates its continuing rise.
“Every year we plan for the number of kindergarten students we are getting in,” Cambridge said. “This year we are losing 500 Grade 12s and increasing by 200 kindergarten students. We are trying to create room.”
Some elementary schools such as Happy Valley and Lakewood elementary schools are already at capacity for kindergarten students. Some students even living near these schools will have to travel to attend a school with room.
“We are telling new parents to these areas that there is no room at the school, but we can accommodate for older grades,” Cambridge said.
SD 62 planned for the growth, Cambridge said crediting it to to “changing trends.”
“In the Wishart area, a lot of families moved in 15 years ago and now their kids are grown up, but the families didn’t move,” he said explaining why some, including Wishart, David Cameron and Savory elementary schools, have room to accommodate new students.
“We don’t have a lot of room, but we will be a pickup school. No matter what school you get into every school in the district provides a very high calibre education, social responsibility, new initiates and literacy to its students,” said Jane Penn, principal of Savory elementary school. “The new k’s will be a part of all the vibrancy of this growing district.”
Since adding the French immersion program to Millstream elementary this year, that school is at capacity as well, Cambridge said.
In 2015 SD 62 plans to move Grade 6 students out of elementary school and into middle schools.
“That will give some relief in two years,” Cambridge said.