With kids heading back to school for another year, School District 79 has a full complement of educators.

The emerging trend in the school district this year is that of growth, as the district is seeing significantly higher enrolment numbers, more portable classrooms, and even a nature-based learning program at Mill Bay Elementary for kids from kindergarten to grade three.

Superintendent Rod Allen says enrolment numbers are north of eight thousand students.

“We’re anticipating 8,050 students, but we’re getting reports that parents and families we didn’t know about are moving to town,” said Allen. “We’re anticipating some growth there that we weren’t necessarily planning on, so we’ll see how that plays out.”

Single portable classrooms have been added to Alex Aitken Elementary, Palsson Elementary, and Discovery Elementary, while Chemainus Elementary has three additional portable units and George Bonner Elementary has two new additions.

For a long time, high school students had to travel back and forth between Quamichan and Cowichan Secondary, but Allen says that’s no longer the case and that’s a huge benefit to students.

“It allows each school to program and schedule appropriately for the age of the kids that are in the school,” said Allen. “Quamichan will have more flexibility in how they organize their blocks and schedule. They don’t have to interface and connect in the same way as they did previously with Cowichan Secondary.”

A nature-based learning program is also being offered to about 80 Mill Bay Elementary students from Kindergarten to Grade Three.

If all goes well, this program may be expanded next school year.