Abbotsford school district prepares for full-day kindergarten

Preparations are underway in the Abbotsford school district for all kindergarten classes to become full-day sessions in September.

Artist’s concept of the new single-unit portable classroom being manufactured by Shelter Industries Inc.

Artist’s concept of the new single-unit portable classroom being manufactured by Shelter Industries Inc.

Preparations are underway in the Abbotsford school district for all kindergarten classes to become full-day sessions in September.

The district currently has 19 elementary schools with full-day sessions, while the remaining 10 are due to come on board for the 2011-12 year.

These schools were delayed in the introduction of full-day kindergarten because they required either renovations or the addition of portable classrooms.

In October, the board of education approved a capital project bylaw for almost $620,000 to complete the work. This does not include the cost of the modular units themselves, which amount to $212,000 each.

School district spokesman Dave Stephen said three schools – King, Mountain and South Poplar – are undergoing site preparation to accommodate modular classrooms.

The other schools are getting renovations such as new shelving and millwork, the addition of storage areas, new furniture and painting.

The modular units are currently being constructed in Aldergrove at Shelter Industries Inc. and Greensmart Manufacturing Ltd. The three in Abbotsford are among 138 that will be situated across the province, accommodating 110,400 full-day kindergarten students in 25 school districts.

Each unit is expected to have a lifespan of about 40 years.

Heavy internal beams give them solid protection from heavy snow loads, heavy winds and earthquakes. This, along with seven-inch wall insulation, makes the units suitable for any location in the province, from the Lower Mainland to the far north.

Each unit also comes with a modern heating system that is adaptable for whatever type of service is available in each community, whether it be natural gas, propane, electrical or connection to the hot water system in the main school building.

Interior walls are high-quality wood panelling over drywall, and electrically activated screens roll down over the windows to protect them from vandalism.

The number of students entering full-day kindergarten in Abbotsford in September is not yet available.

In 2010-11, 916 students were enrolled in full-day classes, while another 444 were in half-day programs.

– with files by Kurt Langmann, Black Press