Construction on a new low-carbon, seismically safe replacement school for Cedar Hill is set to start in summer 2023, after the Greater Victoria School Board approved its design.
The current middle school is nearly 100 years old and has the highest level of seismic vulnerability.
The new building is designed to serve 575 students and foster greater student engagement, collaboration and connection to Indigenous education and the traditional territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.
“Through student, staff, and community engagement, we have heard the importance of creating an inclusive and accessible school that is welcoming for all learners. We recognize that learning practices and requirements continue to evolve, and we must build a school that will inspire and provide amenities that support future generations,” board chair Nicole Duncan said in a news release.
The first middle school built in SD61 since 2004, it will also be the greenest building in the district, providing a 90 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions versus a baseline model.
The two-storey school design includes breakout learning spaces and learning neighbourhoods, and groups of classrooms around an open collaboration space to provide students with a smaller learning community within a larger building. All 21 classrooms include sinks, windows and technology packages.
“Students have been at the centre of the decisions in this design process,” superintendent Deb Whitten said. “The building has been designed to embed the core competencies for middle school in order to deliver unique programs that engage students in their learning. We want to create enriching learning opportunities and provide a space that fosters creativity, connectivity, and collaboration.”
There are six designated spaces for art, drama, music, foods, and textiles, plus a skills and technology shop. Four inclusive education classrooms are also integrated in the small learning communities to be used for counselling and supporting students. An inclusive education hub will be centrally located on the ground floor with counselling offices, an English language resource room, sensory room and a braille room.
Plans include a gym with three change rooms including one all-gender room and the option of a mezzanine. There will also be a learning commons, with an Indigenous welcome space that has exterior access to connect with the outdoors.
When complete the campus is expected to boast two sports fields, a basketball court, outdoor gathering spaces, additional parking, an on-site pick-up and drop-off space and a multi-use path along Cedar Hill Road with a raised curb and separated pedestrian and bike lanes.
The $46.5-million budget breaks down to $42.9 from the province and $3.6 million from the district.
The new school is expected to open in fall 2025, with students remaining in the current building during construction.
Visit sd61.bc.ca to view the full plan.
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