The West Coast’s baby boom has caught School District 70’s attention.
Thanks to a steadily rising student population, Ucluelet Elementary school will welcome a new vice principal next year.
The school has not had a vice principal since Drew Ryan left the position in 2012 to become the principal of Wickaninnish Community School in Tofino.
School District 70 superintendent Greg Smythe told the Westerly News Ryan wasn’t replaced right away because the thinking at the time was that UES was small enough to merge with Ucluelet Secondary School.
“There was a thought of operating Ucluelet’s schools as a K-12 concept. Having four administrators over a K-12 system didn’t make sense, so we continued to have UES as a single administrator,” he said.
He said the K-12 idea no longer looks feasible because of steadily growing enrolment in UES’ primary grades.
“That enrolment increase over the last two to three years has been quite significant and appears to be very sustainable, so we’re no longer confining the UES-USS admin thing to three individuals,” he said.
“The sustained enrolment increase in the West Coast schools has given us more reason to say, ‘We need to fill that position again’…It’s just the right thing to do at this time.”
He attributed the rising student population to a changing demographic on the West Coast, that’s seeing young singles and families staying in town year-round rather than seasonally.
“I’m thrilled to see the West Coast has continued to attract and retain people on the West Coast and a lot of these are younger individuals and families who are staying and making a go of it,” he said.
“As a result, probably the highest birth rate in our district is in Tofino and Ucluelet. Good on the communities for finding ways to not only attract, but to keep people in the communities. Our most significant enrolment increase has been at Wickaninnish and Ucluelet Elementary in their primary grades.”
He said UES new vice principal will spend a large portion of their time teaching in the classroom.
They will also serve as a valuable partner to the new principal the school is currently in the process of hiring to replace Jen Adamson, who has accepted a position with the Victoria School District next fall.
“More than anything it’s that admin partnership that we think is really important. Giving someone to work with, to bounce ideas off of and a second perspective on issues or items,” Smythe said.
“To hit the old adage of ‘two heads are better than one sometimes,’ that’s what we’ve heard from administrators who have worked in single admin schools: they really missed having an admin partner.”
He said the new vice principal will likely cut into a teacher’s hours as “0.8 of that administrator’s time is in the classroom, which means there will be 0.8 less of a teacher in the school.”
“Because that person is in a classroom, the admin time does have an impact on the teaching allocation,” he said.
“The school staff is well aware of it, in fact, they have been lobbying the board for the last two or three years to replace the VP so, I think, they do it knowing of the consequence to them in terms of the number of teachers in the building.”
Both UES’ new principal and vice principal are expected to be in place by Aug. 1.