More than 3,000 students in the Central Okanagan are now being educated in just over 100 portable buildings.
On Tuesday, Central Okanagan Public Schools superintendent Kevin Kaardal said the district saw an increase of 330 students this year, pushing the overall total to more than 25,000.
That increase of 330 students, he said, fell within the parameters of 250 to 450 students the district has seen during the last nine years.
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Kaardal noted that some districts are still counting students, but that the Central Okanagan is now the fifth-largest school district in the province.
He also said School District 23 is confident that with portable additions, class sizes will remain the same.
“We have 122 portables for students, which is about 3,200 students in portables at any given year,” Kaardal said. “Our district has a 107-per cent capacity. This is nothing new; this is just Canadian immigration and growth.”
According to BC Check-up 2023, the Okanagan has increased by 12,500 people from last year. More residents means more students and more facilities to house them.
“We have been very fortunate the government understands the capital issues that they are faced with,” said Kaardal.
“The demand is much greater than the money available and that is a challenge for any government when you have a growing province.”
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He continued, saying while the school district is grateful for the support it receives from government, “we need another middle or secondary school, like yesterday, and a couple of elementary schools right away, too. But we are making do and working closely with the ministry (of education).”
The province has committed $3.4 billion during the next three years for expanding schools, along with upgrading and replacing heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
“This government has made a commitment to try to get kids out of portables,” said Kaardal, “but you can only build schools so fast.”
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