West Sechelt Elementary School students will be staying put for now, after the School District No. 46 (SD46) board decided Tuesday night to add portables as needed at the over-capacity school.
The unanimous decision at the March 12 school board meeting included a recommendation to review catchment areas in West Sechelt in the future.
The elementary school is currently 18 students over capacity and projections show an influx of another 83 students by 2020.
SD46 held numerous information meetings about the capacity issue and discussed the information compiled from those meetings at a February 26 committee of the whole meeting.
“I will support this as a motion if it really is looking at it in the short term. I don’t want to see six portables at West Sechelt Elementary for six years or eight years or 10 years, that’s not my vision,” said trustee Christine Younghusband. “I mentioned this at committee of the whole and I’d like to mention it again here, if we are heading in this direction for the short term and putting portables there and looking at the catchment areas, those catchment areas need a lot of revision, such that we have some equal distribution of students in the schools that have capacity.”
Other trustees agreed portables should be a short-term measure.
“For me the most important part of this motion is the reviewing of catchment areas. We have closed Sechelt, Davis Bay is small, Kinnikinnick has space and we have a school that’s needing portables,” said trustee Dave Mewhort. “I would suspect that everyone on the board agrees the portables need to be a temporary measure and I would hope that the reviewing of the catchment areas is what will result in some kind of significant change in the population of the West Sechelt area school.”
As an additional effort to address overcrowding, school board chair Silas White moved SD46 ask the Ministry of Education for capital funding of a facility expansion at West Sechelt Elementary School next year, and that SD46 explore the feasibility of a full school rebuild.
He noted a new government could mean more funding for capital projects.
“I do think this is certainly a long shot based on discussions we’ve had with the ministry, but it’s worth a shot and we need a definitive ‘no’ or ‘we’re open to the possibility’ before we can move forward in longer term planning,” White said. “I think we can make some very strong arguments about why West Sechelt definitely is growing and deserves certainly an addition and possibly even a rebuild.”
Trustees were unanimous in their support of White’s motion.