Victoria-area schools are already on board with the provincial government’s push to use empty school rooms for daycares or out-of-school care.
B.C. Education Minister Don McRae this week proposed an amendment to the School Act requiring school boards to set up policies to encourage daycares on school grounds. That could mean using existing classrooms or putting portables on school property.
The benefits are obvious. The most convenient place for before- or after-school care is at the school the children attend. If younger siblings are in daycare at the same location, it’s still more convenient. Rental revenue from private operators is a welcome boost to district budgets. Using every room in a school keeps it viable and an integral part of the community.
The advantages are so apparent, McRae’s pitch seems almost redundant. Before- or after-school care is offered at 700 of the province’s 1,600 schools.
In the Greater Victoria School District, 16 schools have daycares, 21 have before- or after-school care, and six have both daycare and out-of-school care. The story is similar in the Saanich district, where 10 schools have child-care facilities.
Neither district expects to have to change its policies, since they already mesh with McRae’s ideas.
The demand for daycare spaces is heavy. Providing room in schools will not guarantee that new spaces will be created, but it could make it easier for profit or not-for-profit operators to make a go of it.
Districts should always be looking for ways to use school facilities that are underutilized.
Schools are valuable community assets. The more use we can get out of them — day or night — the better.
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