School numbers an eye opener

Request for more schools reiterates growth seen on the West Shore

We heard some good news from Dunsmuir middle school this week, that the Sooke School District’s seismic upgrade of the building was on schedule and under budget.

A more troubling revelation, but not an altogether unexpected one, was that Dunsmuir is basically full, having received dozens of new students over the course of the summer.

And they’re not the only school that is maxed out these days. The capacity issues faced by the year-old Royal Bay secondary have garnered plenty of attention of late, and Happy Valley elementary, also relatively newly built, has been full essentially since it was reopened.

The continued brisk population growth on the West Shore has prompted the folks in charge at SD62 to request four new schools –three new elementary schools for Langford, a new middle school in a yet-to-be determined location and the completion of the expansion of Royal Bay.

A large wish list indeed, but one that reflects the state of growth on the West Shore. SD62 superintendant Jim Cambridge knows his district is just one of many in the province that will be making big-dollar requests of the Ministry of Education in this go-round. But we applaud the spunk of the Sooke district’s board of education for stating their area’s needs very clearly.

A betting person might say there’s no way our area will get funding for four new schools, let alone one, so soon after the new Belmont and Royal Bay were built and opened. But we would hazard a guess that few districts in the province are experiencing the same level of population growth as SD62.

Portable classrooms are not the end of the world – certainly the students don’t really care where they learn, as long as it’s warm enough.

But they’re certainly not a long-term solution to an overcrowding problem.

We don’t expect SD62 to score 100 per cent on this year’s capital funding requests. On the other hand, we’re confident that Ministry officials will look very closely at real population and demographic trends of areas before making decisions around school construction funding.