Schools in Surrey just got a little more crowded, as enrolment for the district, expected to include 900 new students, came in at more than double that number, with 2,200 new faces inside Surrey classrooms.
Surrey Schools is the largest and fastest-growing district in the province with more than 78,000 students and 13,000 staff. Initiatives to tackle overcrowding issues have been announced for a couple of years, with the most common suggestion being to build more schools in the city.
Before the pandemic slowed enrolment numbers for the district, 1,000 new students were entering schools in Surrey, White Rock and rural parts of Barnston Island each year. As the province opens back up, a return to those numbers was the expectation.
“More and more families are choosing the Surrey School District and we are committed to providing quality education for every student in our district,” superintendent Mark Pearmain noted in a release.
“But we also recognize that rapid growth like this puts increased pressure on our resources. Many of our schools are operating over capacity as the rising population continues to outpace available space. We have been working closely with the province and our municipal partners to address this exponential growth and find sustainable solutions for our school communities to meet capacity needs.”
Six new schools have opened in the district, in addition to seven schools receiving expansions, since 2017. Growth is continuing, as one more new school — Snokomish Elementary at 5845 and 5851 148 St. — is being constructed and is set to open in spring 2025, while another expansions at four existing schools are also in progress.
Every year, Surrey Schools sends a capital submission to the Ministry of Education and Child Care, proposing new projects that will address the district’s capacity needs.
For the 2023/2024 five-year plan, Surrey Schools is recommending nine new schools be added to the district — including seven elementary schools — in the areas of Anniedale-Tynehead, Clayton, Darts Hill, Pacific/Sunnyside Heights, Abbey Ridge, Redwoods Heights and Grandview Heights.
The two secondary schools are needed – in East Newton and South Port Kells areas – according to the district.
The new school projects the district is recommending come with an estimated total cost of $750,007,000.
Surrey Schools is also proposing additional space be added to 16 existing schools — seven of which are secondary schools: Semiahmoo Secondary, Clayton Heights Secondary, Lord Tweedsmuir, Fraser Heights, North Surrey Secondary, Panorama Ridge, Frank Hurt and Kwantlen Park Secondary.
The remaining nine chosen schools for expansions are elementary schools — Peace Arch, Forsyth Road, McLeod Road, Latimer Road, Lena Shaw, Old Yale Road, Martha Currie and George Greenaway Elementaries.
Guildford Park, Tamanawis and Fleetwood Park Secondary schools are still awaiting approval from the Ministry for funding for additional space allowance.
Replacement projects were also recommended by the district for five schools — Hjorth Road Elementary, which would relocate to a new site; as well as William Watson, Mountainview Montessori, Ecole Riverdale and Port Kells Elementary schools, which would be replaced at their respective current locations.
David Brankin Elementary in North Surrey is the only school that the district finds in need of seismic mitigation.