When the doors of Davidson Road Elementary opened for the 2015-16 school session yesterday, it was all they could do to fit all the students into the building, the biggest and busiest of the three elementary schools in Lake Country.
In fact, close to 50 students living in the Davidson Road catchment area—many in kindergarten but spread throughout K to Grade 7—will be in school in either Peter Greer Elementary or Oyama Traditional as school officials continue to grapple with how to change the catchment area for Lake Country's three elementary schools.
"We're still trying to come up with better catchment areas for Lake Country," said school superintendent Hugh Gloster. "That area has been the subject of some challenge with the Davidson Road catchment having the majority of the growth in Lake Country.
"We know we have to adjust and we hope to bring that to closure before the winter break and new catchments will start for the following September."
As schools in the Central Okanagan opened their doors and welcomed some 22,000 students into classrooms for the start of another school year, the school district is forecasting a slight increase in students across the board in the district, one of just a handful in the province that has increasing enrolment.
However, outgoing superintendent Hugh Gloster says while growth in numbers is better than declining enrolment, it is putting a strain on current facilities.
"We're in an enviable position where we have pockets of real growth but where we are having trouble is accommodating everyone in some areas," said Gloster, who will close out a 30-plus year career this fall with the Central Okanagan School District. [See related story this page.] "It's a lot easier to face the pressure points and grow than to have to close schools."
In Lake Country, there are still long term plans to build a new middle school next to George Elliot, a move that will free up space in the three elementary schools as it would allow the middle school to move to the new Grade 6 to 8 configuration. The school district owns the land but is currently leasing it back to the Aspen Golf Course for use until a new school is approved, some time in the future.
School's in Rutland are the first area in the school district that will move to a new grade configuration this year as elementary schools move to kindergarten to Grade 5, middle schools to Grade 6 to 8 and high schools to Grade 9 to 12.
The school board mandated the move to the new grade configuration in 2012. However, no other area in the Central Okanagan is yet able to make the switch and the district says it will likely be the better part of a decade before all schools are changed over.
Other changes this year include the implementation of new curriculum from the provincial government, designed to engage students better and develop deeper thinking as opposed to just memorizing facts.
The new curriculum is optional in kindergarten to Grade 9 this year, before it is mandated next year. Grade 10 to 12 will have its optional year with the new curriculum next year before its implemented for the 2017 school session.