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An addition that will expand Panorama Park Elementary by 200 student seats is expected to be completed by October.
With between 1,000 and 1,200 new students anticipated to enter Surrey schools this fall, the 2019-20 school year is proving to be yet another year of strong growth for the Surrey School District.
The influx of students isn't anything new for the district, which has retained the title of being the largest in B.C. for many years. Student enrolment is projected to top 74,700 this year – the rapid influx causing ongoing challenges building new school space.
"Just for perspective, one year of growth in our school district is the equivalent to the population of a secondary school, or a couple of elementary schools," said Surrey Board of Education chair Laurie Larsen. "Schools take at least two to three years to plan and build, so it's difficult, but we've worked hard with the Ministry of Education to speed up the process."
Indeed, the district has machinery rolling and construction well underway on multiple sites that will add much-needed classrooms in some of the fastest growing neighbourhoods.
This fall, for example, an addition will be completed at Panorama Park Elementary, in the West Newton area, that will add 200 student seats at the school. It's scheduled to be ready for occupation in October.
Pacific Heights Elementary, in South Surrey, also has a 300-seat expansion underway that is due to be complete by spring.
All the while, there are four brand new schools in various stages of construction: Maddaugh Road Elementary in the Clayton area, an elementary in the Edgewood Drive area of South Surrey, another elementary in the Douglas area of South Surrey, and Grandview Heights Secondary in South Surrey. All are slated for occupancy in 2021.
Expansions are also rolling at Coyote Creek, Frost Road and Sullivan elementary schools, which are all schedule to open in 2020; and construction is anticipated to proceed this year on the new Regent Road Elementary in the Clayton neighbourhood and a sizable addition at Sullivan Heights Secondary. In all, about 5,500 new student spaces are expected to open by 2021. (Check HERE for info on all capital projects).
While the new schools and additional classroom spaces take shape, many schools will continue to use portables. This year the district has a total of 361 – 28 more than last year.
Also hand-in-hand with student enrolment, of course, comes staff growth. This year, Surrey Schools has budgeted to hire 78 additional teachers, five principals and vice-principals, 107 EAs (education assistants) and 19 support staff members.