As students are readying themselves for summer break, the Sooke School District is already making arrangements for next fall.
SD 62 will start next school year with 100 per cent of its kindergarten classes operating for full days. Kindergarten enrollment for the 2011-2012 school year is already more than 700 students – a healthy amount above the predicted 660.
“We always get more who sign up after school starts,” observed Ron Warder, assistant superintendent. “We could get 20 more and that’s a lot, that’s a whole class.”
With extended days for the five-old-year freshmen, SD 62 has added 27 classrooms through additions to four school buildings and eight free standing modular classrooms at six schools.
John Stubbs, Crystal View, Happy Valley and Lakeview are receiving classroom additions built onto the existing school.
Sangster, Willway, Sooke and Hans Hegesen have received one modular each and two have been added at Wishart and École Poirier. Modular classrooms are treated as permanent buildings and have been secured to a concrete foundation.
“I think (the modulars) are beautiful spaces, you don’t feel like you are in a portable,” said Frances Krusekopf, district principal of curriculum and programs for SD 62.
Peter Godau, manager of facilities for SD 62 points out the walls of the buildings are eight inches thick to help insulate the building. “The construction is much heaver (than a standard portable),” Godau said. “They are also architecturally designed.”
Modulars have large windows at the front of the class equipped with electric shutters, and each have their own washroom, janitor room and mechanical room. Across the province, 138 modulars have been added to school districts.
The cost for each modular classroom is about $250,000 and are designed to have a life span for about 40 years. A standard portable is expected to last no longer than 20 years.
SD 62 officials expected huge challenges transporting the 1,100 square foot building from the Mainland on a B.C. ferry with only an eight inch gap between the roof the building to the ship bulkhead, but none were damaged in transit.
“There was a lot of space width-wise” said Gus Gustafson, SD 62 capital forman.
During the 2010-2011 school year, two-thirds of the kindergarten classes were full day and proved to be popular.
“The feedback we are getting is (full day K) is the gift of time,” Krusekopf said. “A lot of the teachers we talk to say they don’t know how they ever did it in half a day.”
With a focus on play-based learning, Krusekopf said teachers are not feeling rushed to get through projects with the students. “I think full day K has provided a lot of opportunities for that.”