Crossing guard Sarah Ferrier waves to a bus driver as she guards the crosswalk outside Saseenos Elementary School on March 5. (File - Black Press Media)

Crossing guard Sarah Ferrier waves to a bus driver as she guards the crosswalk outside Saseenos Elementary School on March 5. (File - Black Press Media)

Board OK’s $154M budget for Sooke School District

Budget priorities include mental health, early education

The Sooke School District’s board of education passed a $154-million budget for the 2021-22 school year on June 22, allocating $125 million for operations, $19.6 million for a special purpose fund and a $9.4 million capital fund.

It’s an increase of $6 million over last year due to the rising numbers of students. The district expects between 300 and 400 more students next year, topping 11,600 students.

The district led a months-long consultation about what budget priorities should be, gathering feedback from parent groups, teachers, unions and students. The top answers from the groups focused on mental health and wellness, early learning and intervention, safe learning environments, and adequate resources, supplies, and equipment.

The board agreed with those priorities and voted to approve the budget proposed by School District 62 staff.

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It also approved the school district’s five-year capital plan, submitted to the provincial government in hopes of gaining extra funding towards capital projects such as seismic upgrades, school expansions and new schools.

Port Renfrew Elementary and Sooke Elementary are tagged as the priorities for seismic upgrades. In addition, the district proposes that Sooke Elementary also be expanded to provide extra needed seats and allow for nearby John Muir and Sasseenos Elementary schools to use that new space while those facilities are upgraded.

The capital plans also propose four new elementary schools in Langford, Colwood and Sooke, and a new high school in Langford to accommodate the growing number of students.

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