According to the superintendent for School District 69 (Qualicum), the district has enough space to accommodate its in-person enrolment numbers, despite some schools being near or over capacity.
During a virtual town hall meeting held by the district in mid-January, superintendent Peter Jory presented a Long Range Facility Plan to set the district’s direction for facilities during the next five to 10 years.
As chair Eve Flynn said before Jory’s presentation, the last Long Range Facility Plan was presented in September 2017.
“I think the real value here for us, as staff, is it gives us clarity and direction. If we know what the plans are going to be, if we know what the long-term direction is going to be – it really helps us be more efficient with our operations workflow and eliminate waste in local capital spending,” said Jory.
As part of his presentation, he provided a brief overview of the district’s enrolment and capacity.
Current enrolment of brick-and-mortar, in-person students sits at approximately 4,300, excluding CEAP (Collaborative Education Alternative Program) and PASS/Woodwinds (alternative school) students.
Jory said with current site capacity, they could actually accommodate up to 4,700 in-person students, and by restoring latent spaces, could potentially accommodate 5,900. In being even “more assertive” with flexible space, the district could increase that capacity to 6,100 students.
“Now, given that… we have some space concerns as it currently sits. We know that Springwood is at – or over – capacity as it’s currently designed or intended. We are going to see space pressure in Arrowview, we could potentially be exceeding capacity in a couple of years. And same with Ballenas, we could be actually be exceeding capacity in a couple of years,” he said.
Some possible solutions for enrolment pressures include converting flexible learning spaces into learning classrooms; redrawing catchment boundaries to divert students to schools with capacity; re-opening entire school sites; and purchasing either modular buildings or portables and placing them on existing school sites.
“If we got a little more bold in our usage, we could actually put another 200 students into our schools as they exist now,” he said, adding that the district’s enrolment is projected to increase to 4,500 over the next 10 years. “What it actually looks like is we’re going to peak in about two or three years and then it will flatten out.”
The next virtual SD69 town hall meeting is planned for Feb. 10, 2022.