After a busy first half of the school year, community members can expect the second half to match in the Greater Victoria School District.
With Victoria High School scheduled for upgrades in August 2020, SD61 superintendent Shelley Green said the process to find an architect and put the project out to tender will begin in the new year.
In June, the B.C. Ministry of Education approved $77.1 million in funding to support to school’s seismic upgrades, which will include structural engineering and upgrades to wiring and mechanical, plumbing and heating systems and additional space to account for the school’s growing enrolment. A “neighbourhood learning centre” will be created in the school and spaces will be modernized to meet learning needs as well.
Families in SD61 will be consulted to help determine what amenities and enhancements to include in the seismic upgrades, and Green said that process will continue in the new year.
When it comes to staff numbers, Green said she is anticipating staffing will “will remain very much the same” through the spring.
“We’ve got a pretty solid staffing ratio and we hired new people at the beginning of the year,” Green said, adding that the school district just held a “major” staffing fair with recent graduates from the University of Victoria.
“Many of them started work the same day they were hired,” Green said.
The new year will be starting off with a “bang,” according to Green, with kindergarten orientation kicking things off to let parents know what starting school will be like for their young ones and what they can look forward to in September.
After that, registration and transfers will follow.
The year 2020 will also be the first year SD61 moves into its new catchment boundaries. Parents will have to keep the new boundaries in mind when they register for the 2020/2021 school year.
The changes will include the addition of new catchment boundaries for South Park, Cloverdale and Bank Street, the reopening of Richmond school and new student spaces at the Bank Street facility.
Boundaries have also been adjusted to align with available space in schools and revisions to catchment pathways.
Green noted that students who are currently enrolled can remain in their assigned schools until the next school level transition, but new students will need to register in their new catchment areas. For siblings that might be separated by the changes, SD61 will allow the sibling enrolled in a school where the catchment has changed to apply for a transfer to a new school, or an incoming student can apply to transfer to the same school as their older sibling and receive “non-catchment sibling priority.”
Green said the review process for catchment boundary changes that took place in 2019 was difficult for some but provided the school district with good feedback.
“Consultation with each of the buildings and family communities has been fantastic,” Green said.
The Greater Victoria School District strategic plan also aged out at the end of last year so Green said consultations with the Board of Trustees and partner groups will begin in the new year.
“We looked at district data on areas where we want to see improvement, goals, areas to focus on and will consult with various partner groups on where to go from here,” Green said. “It will go out to all of the schools to provide feedback to the board as well on where to revitalize the strategic plan.”
While Green said there is a significant amount of work on the horizon in the new year, she said it is very exciting work for SD61.
“Ultimately we want to let our families know that we truly hope they have a safe, happy, restful break as it’s been a very busy fall,” Green said. “And we definitely look forward to returning in January…It’s going to be a very exciting new year.”