From the outside it looks like the same old building, but within Westsyde elementary is a brand new school.
“This place was basically torn down to the studs and redone,” said the school’s principal, Don Poelzer, while touring media through the halls of the newly renovated school on Tuesday.
Rooms are still being organized and an exterior paint job is being applied, but the school will be ready for the first day of classes on Sept. 3.
“We still have a couple small things to get finished like our Wi-Fi and a couple carpentry items that still have to get done, but we’re almost there,” Poelzer said.
Closed in 2006, Westsyde elementary has been renovated from top to bottom, sporting new doors, floors and windows.
The school boasts plenty of space with many multi-purpose rooms, including a dedicated art room and computer lab.
“While, at some schools, we’re adding portables and there just isn’t space for those multi-purpose rooms, Westsyde will have that,” SD73 superintendent Alison Sidow said.
Poelzer said he intends to put the multi-purpose areas to good use for as long as possible. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if they had more than 200 students attending Westsyde elementary in a couple years.
While registration is still ongoing, the new Westsyde elementary has about 165 students enrolled so far for 2019-2020.
“There will be transfers both into and out of the school,” said Poelzer, noting there are about two requests to transfer out and about eight requests to transfer into the school.
Transfers will be accommodated pending space, Poelzer said, noting they also have to be mindful of class size and composition rules and maintain some space for people moving into the neighbourhood.
The Kamloops-Thompson school board approved reopening Westsyde elementary in order to alleviate overcrowding at nearby David Thompson elementary, which housed 425 students last year.
All students living north of Pine Springs Road — starting from homes that border Sicamore Drive, Sumac Place and Seneca Place — are to attend Westsyde elementary. The district estimates Westsyde elementary housing about 175 students.
While the incoming Grade 7 class has been grandfathered in at David Thompson, Poelzer said there are about eight who will choose to move to the new school class and will share a split class with Grade 6 students.
The north side of the building will house primary students, while the south end will be for intermediate grades. The layout of the school is the same, except for a single room that was enlarged to house an art class, Poelzer said.
School District 73 spent about $1 million on the renovation and 9,000 hours of work to the structure over the summer. The refurbished gymnasium has a new sound system and score clock, but sports equipment has yet to arrive.
“We’ll mark those walls up in no time,” Poelzer said.
The school’s sports teams have yet to receive a moniker, but Poelzer said a new nickname and logo will be in place within a couple of weeks.
“I already have the jerseys ready to print,” said Poelzer, noting the school’s colours will be red and grey.
Outside is a new playground and fresh blacktop, which replaced an old, cracked surface.
The school zone signs are also in place along Westsyde Road.
Westsyde elementary has a roster of 10 teachers, three support workers, a secretary, library technician and two custodians.
Only three teachers from David Thompson elementary moved over to the new school. Other positions were filled by other employees in the school district based on seniority.
One of those new teachers is Tessa Watson, who could be found organizing her Kindergarten classroom on Tuesday.
Watson, who spent the last two years as a district literacy resource teacher, said she was excited to come to the new school because all staff members are coming together as an entirely new team.
Poelzer himself last worked as the district principal for international education.
“We have people here who really want to be here and that’s a nice way to have a school culture start,” Poelzer said.
As there is a lot of room in the school, Bumble and Bean Daycare — which had been leasing space in the old school — will be allowed to stay, occupying space in the gymnasium, as well as a room at the front of the school, Poelzer told KTW.