Enrolment pressure forces Kamloops school district to reopen closed school | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Enrolment pressure forces Kamloops school district to reopen closed school

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January 18, 2019 - 4:00 PM

KAMLOOPS — As the Kamloops-Thompson school district prepares to deal with a surge in student enrolment over the next ten years, one elementary school is ready to take the next step to reduce overcrowding.

School District No. 73 will begin the consultation process to redraw the David Thompson Elementary school catchment area in order to re-open Westsyde Elementary School to help with the increasing number of students coming into the district.

David Thompson Elementary School is well over its capacity by 125 per cent, according to Rob Schoen, School District No. 73 assistant superintendent for elementary schools.

It’s also one of the smallest buildings in the district. But it certainly isn’t the only school seeing high enrolment pressures.

“In all areas of the city we have schools above the ministry capacity,” Schoen says.

Typically elementary schools in Kamloops accommodate 300 to 400 students, he explains.

David Thompson is currently accommodating 400 students at the moment. With school trustees giving the green light earlier this week for staff to begin community engagement sessions with the public, this means Westsyde Elementary school is scheduled to re-open for September 2019.

The ability to use the available space nearby will reduce the number of portables at David Thompson, Schoen says.

After the changes, the District expects to see 250 students enrolled at David Thompson and 175 students enrolled at Westsyde.

Schoen says there are two reasons the school district is facing high enrolment pressures. There are more students coming into the school system through kindergarten enrolment and a past B.C. court decision from 2016 that reinstated standards on class sizes.

“Because of the change in class size and composition, the school district ended up adding 90 teachers to the teaching complement,” he says. “60-plus were classroom teachers so subsequently that consumed the classroom inventory that we had in the school district.”

Now, Schoen says, schools are seeing pressures in terms of space.

A facilities review by the district’s director of maintenance presented to trustees before the winter holidays showed nine schools within Kamloops are expecting to face significant enrolment pressures over the next five years.

There are currently three schools under review for catchment changes in the next few years. The report also highlights that 50 per cent of School District No. 73 schools will require replacement within the next 20 years.

The estimated cost to re-open Westsyde Elementary school is approximately $1.2 million.

The community is invited to attend a town hall meeting to discuss the proposed changes to David Thompson Elementary on Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. 

For more information go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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