Brookside Elementary vice-principal and teacher Karen Addie sets up her classroom in preparation for the start of the school year. Surrey is welcoming about 69

Space constraints persist in Surrey as school year starts

More students arrive but new classrooms slow to come.

There may not be any new classroom space ready for the school year, but students – especially younger ones – continue to flow into Surrey schools.

Early projections have the Surrey School District growing by approximately 285 students this year. While the number of elementary school children is rising rapidly – up 410 – the number of high school students is decreasing by about 125 from last year.

Despite the steady growth, there is no new school space opening this fall in Surrey – the largest school district in B.C. with about 69,500 students.

However, there are some school additions in the works in areas with rapid housing development and school overcrowding. Adams Road Elementary, in the fast-growing Clayton neighbourhood, is in the midst of construction of a 10-classroom addition that’s slated for a spring 2016 opening.

There are 13 portables at Adams Road, though some are needed because of the construction.

Rosemary Heights Elementary in South Surrey, which has seven portables on site, should start to see a two-classroom addition begin to take shape later this month, as should nearby Morgan Elementary. It’s hoped the extra space at both schools can be occupied by early in the new year.

Ground has yet to be broken for a much-needed high school in the Clayton North area, but it’s hoped the project will go to tender in October. A high school takes about two years to build, however, leaving Lord Tweedsmuir (LT) Secondary and nearby Clayton Heights Secondary continuing to operate under severe space constraints. There are 13 portables at LT and 10 at Clayton.

Both Lord Tweedsmuir in Cloverdale and Earl Marriott Secondary in South Surrey have more than 2,000 students and four years ago, implemented flex schedules, forcing different grades to start class at alternate times to accommodate the student overflow.

Though the district owns land in the Grandview area of South Surrey, the province has yet to provide funding to build a high school there that would take the pressure off Earl Marriott Secondary.

“The Earl Marriott crowding is beyond belief,” said Shawn Wilson, chair of the Surrey Board of Education, who’s received no indication that funding is coming anytime soon. “Space-wise, it looks like we’re just going to endure until we get approval for Grandview.”

The total number of portable classrooms in Surrey this year is 274 – about the same as last year.

Sullivan Heights Secondary in Newton has 14, while Hazelgrove and Katzie Elementary schools have six and five portables, respectively

The situation is a little different in Delta, where overall student enrolment is projected to rise only slightly. Estimates put the number of students headed to Delta at approximately 15,180, about 40 more than last year.

Surrey sets SAIL

New to the Surrey School District this fall is the SAIL program.

SAIL – the Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning – was born from the Surrey Connect online learning program.

Surrey Connect (under the umbrella of SAIL) will continue to offer online courses for Grades 10-12. However, SAIL will also offer three new academies: one based in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); one focusing on arts (STEAM) and another for athletics and performing arts excellence (APAX).

All the SAIL programs incorporate Makerspace, a shared student space that promotes peer learning and knowledge sharing, along with creativity, innovation and problem solving. The Grade 8 academies combine home online learning with face-to-face classes with teachers three to four days per week.

A wing at Brookside Elementary (8555 142A St.) has been transformed to host SAIL’s kindergarten to Grade 7 students. Bridging school and home learning, the program gives parents an opportunity to take a more active role in their child’s education and work with teachers to determine grade-appropriate strategies and tools, again using the unique Makerspace environment.

Primary IB program sprouting in Delta

English Bluff Elementary in Tsawwassen is in the candidacy stage of having an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program.

The program is for children aged three to 12 and focuses on global-mindedness and personal skills. It works local and international issues into the curriculum and asks students to study six themes, including “who we are” and “how the world works” and consider the links between them.

The school has committed to the program and teachers there have now begun following IB curriculum and started training. Once the site is assessed as fully prepared, it can be accredited as an IB school.

The Delta School District is also developing a Horticulture Academy in partnership with Kwantlen Polytechnic University. It’s hoped it can be offered to Grade 11 and 12 students beginning next fall.