The province may still be in the heat of a pandemic, but there was some business as usual at the latest virtual Campbell River School Board meeting.
The school district is looking ahead to the fall as the board approved the use of up to $287,000 from local capital to increase classroom space at four schools.
In a report to the board, Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Patrick said that while the district’s enrollment is only estimated to increase by 29 FTE (full-time equivalent), some students are switching schools within the district, which means enrollment is increasing at a handful of them.
The district’s two middle schools, Phoenix in the north end and Southgate in the south end, are expected to see an increase in enrollment this fall when “the bubble” reaches them.
Phoenix is expected to see an increase of 33 students and will need one more classroom.
An existing computer lab at the school will be converted back into a classroom. While the work is minor, a mobile computer lab may be required to replace the lab room, the report said. The renovation is budgeted at $8,000 with furniture and equipment coming in at $12,000 and technology at $11,000.
Southgate is expected to see an additional 26 students and will also need one more classroom. Similar to Phoenix, a computer lab will be converted back to a classroom. The estimated costs are $16,000 for renovations and $10,000 for furniture and equipment.
Sandowne, located in the middle of the school district, is expecting to see an additional 18 students this fall. The school will be converting an empty classroom, but requested funds for furniture and equipment. The budgeted costs are $3,900 for technology and $5,000 for furniture and equipment.
Ripple Rock, located the farthest north of the district’s Campbell River schools (the district also has schools in Sayward, and on Cortes and Quadra Islands) is expected to see an increase of 12 students this fall, but due to how the classes are configured, needs one more classroom.
“That is enough due to the class size limits to require an additional classroom and as they don’t have further space in the building, we have to look outside, which means they require a portable.”
Although funds to purchase a portable at Ripple Rock this academic year were approved by the board, it wasn’t needed and the board didn’t purchase one last year.
While the school district has been quoted around $300,000 for portables in the past, Patrick said staff found a vendor that could offer one for $200,000 or less that they were looking into.
Ripple Rock is located in an area that’s projected to see housing growth and the district expects to see that translate to an increase in student enrollment over the years.
The portables already on sight at the school qualify it for a school expansion project. These project requests are funded by the province, and according to the report, Ripple Rock will be included in the district’s capital projects plan.
Further future planning for the anticipated growth in the area could see catchment boundaries adjusted to share the student load with another school.
The old Evergreen site was kept by the district should a new school be needed in the future, though the report notes this could still be a decade away.
With the local capital fund sitting low, Patrick said the board wasn’t able to offer as much as they had in the past for similar situations.
“We’ve had to scale back the supports for schools for the classrooms,” he said. “We are asking the schools to try to reuse furniture from other of our closed schools or reutilize furniture within their own schools to help with the cost.”
The borrowing from the local capital fund was approved unanimously, leaving $65,102 in the fund.