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Jun 19
Surrey Board of Education responds to community input on programs of choice

​New French Immersion program to launch in September


A new Early French Immersion program is to be launched at Cougar Creek elementary school this September. Parents with students on existing Early French Immersion waitlists will be contacted about potential registration.

The new program is one of several recommendations in a staff report endorsed by the Surrey Board of Education at its June 18 public meeting. The Long Range Facilities and Education Plan​ contains more than 40 wide-ranging recommendations to map out the district’s future direction and priorities in educational programming and facilities management.

“Our board heard loud and clear our parents value the quality and variety of our programs of choice, and they want more,” says Surrey Board of Education chairperson Shawn Wilson. “While we continue to be challenged for space because of ongoing growth, trustees support staff’s recommendations to find ways to meet the widespread desire for these programs.”

After extensive public consultations on programs of choice earlier this year involving stakeholder meetings and the online tool PlaceSpeak, the board has supported several recommendations to explore choice program expansion, particularly French Immersion.

Subject to school community consultations, trustees hope to establish a new Punjabi Language program at T.E. Scott elementary in September. The recommendation follows a recent survey of Grade 4 parents at 10 elementary schools with the highest proportion of Punjabi-speaking families. More than 30 families indicated they would register their child for a Punjabi language class in Grade 5 if one was available.​​

Trustees have also asked staff to review all board policies and regulations relating to programs of choice to provide better clarity around definitions and processes.

As another potential step to address program of choice waitlists, the board has asked staff to consult with parents later in the fall about whether registration priority for siblings of students already in a program of choice should be modified in some way.

As one example of how sibling priority affects general access to programs of choice, the report notes there are more than 250 students on the waitlist for Fine Arts, but most of the new spaces available each year are taken by sibling registration.

Digital learning and reporting

  • The board has endorsed the expansion of the district’s Communicating Student Learning initiative in which students use e-portfolios to learn, share and communicate their learning and progress with teachers and parents. In many cases, classrooms have done away with the traditional report card in favour of the ongoing, real-time student e-portfolio tool.
  • Trustees have voted to fund a “major update of hardware” and related resources this year to support learning in the digital age.

Managing growth and costs

  • The board has approved recommendations to refocus and/or relocate Surrey Community College, Adult Education, Surrey Connect and some programs for students with special needs to reflect changes in demand or ministry funding and to ensure space efficiencies, as well as program sustainability.
  • Recommendations related to school catchment boundary reviews and capital funding advocacy have been passed by the board, as well as initiatives to use online tools to communicate capital project priorities and processes, as well as other initiatives publicly.

“This Long Range Facilities and Education Plan spells out the board’s challenges, priorities and direction for Surrey Schools,” says Wilson. “It is also a demonstration of the board’s open and transparent approach.”​

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