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Aug 26
New French Immersion program attracts just six registrations; faces cancellation
The introduction of a new early (kindergarten entry) French Immersion program at Cougar Creek elementary school is at risk of closing before it starts with only six kindergarten student registrations and school opening day less than two weeks away.

The new program was launched after parent surveys and focus groups early this year showed there was sufficient interest to support an additional program. There had also been considerable, ongoing public lobbying by French Immersion advocacy groups for expanded programming in the Surrey School District. 

There have been six elementary French Immersion schools in the district for several years, with four having lengthy waitlists.

In response to the demand, district staff—with the support of the Surrey Board of Education—explored options to add a seventh French Immersion school, despite district space shortages from ongoing enrolment growth. It was determined space could be arranged at Cougar Creek.

From late spring to mid-August this year, the parents of every one of the 229 families on the French Immersion program waitlist were personally contacted and offered a seat at Cougar Creek. Only six accepted. Most of the parents rejecting the offer did not want to travel to the school.

A decision to continue or cancel the Cougar Creek French Immersion program must be made before opening day on September 8, depending on registrations received. 

Any parents wishing to have their kindergarten-aged child register for French Immersion at Cougar Creek is urged to call 604-595-6032 as soon as possible.
Aug 13
It’s back-to-school soon! Opening details now available

Back-to-school details regarding opening day class times and registration for the 2015-2016 school year are now available.

Jul 23
Variety-The Children's Charity supports Wraparound summer program

The Variety $100,000 grant enables the district and its Wrap program partners, the Surrey RCMP and City of Surrey, to provide a variety of sport, exercise and mentorship activities and programs at six schools in the district and in the community through-out the summer break.

Boys and girls from Grade 5 to Grade 12 can access organized events such as hiking trips and wakeboarding outings, as well as structured gym workouts and sports, or even fine arts-related opportunities.

The Wrap program's objective is to promote a positive lifestyle and self-worth by engaging youth with their school, their community and their home in a trusting and positive relationship.​

Jul 22
District international award becomes magazine cover story

A photographer from THE Journal has visited Surrey Schools in connection with a cover story planned about the district's recent Sylvia Charp Award for District Innovation in Technology. THE Journal is a widely-respected, U.S.-based online publication covering advances in learning through the use of technology in K-12 education.

The international Sylvia Charp Award recognizes "a school district that has shown effectiveness and innovation in the application of technology district-wide". The award was formally presented to the district early in July by the International Society for Technology in Education and THE Journal, recognizing Surrey Schools for "focusing its technology planning on transformative learning with the student at the centre."​​

Read more about the district's accomplishment.

Jul 16
Summer reading ideas: students select their favourites
​Looking for a great book for your son or daughter to read over the summer break? Why not go with a chosen winner?​

Every year, Surrey students have the opportunity to participate in one of three readers’ choice award programs supported by Surrey School District teacher-librarians. The Surrey Picture Book of the Year and the Surrey Schools’ Book of the Year programs are offered in elementary schools, while the Surrey Teen Reads program is available to secondary students.
Student Readers' Choice Award winners for this year are:
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by David Dewalt and Oliver Jeffers (Surrey Picture Book of the Year)
  • Cartboy and the Time Capsule by L.A. Campbell (Surrey Schools' Book of the Year)
  • The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey (Surrey Teens Read)​

The Surrey Picture Book of the Year is for primary grade students. A committee of teacher-librarians select 10 books which are then purchased for each elementary school. Students are encouraged to read—or be read to—as many books from the list as possible. Students then vote and the winner is announced in June.


With the Surrey Schools' Book of the Year for the intermediate grades, 10 shortlisted fiction titles are selected by a committee of teacher-librarians that look for a variety of styles and varying levels of reading ability.

In the secondary schools’ Surrey Teen Reads program, students are provided a suite of ten to fifteen exceptional contemporary titles, selected by secondary educators. Titles are selected to appeal to a wide range of readers; exploring ethnic, cultural and other perspectives respectfully and inclusively with thoughtful and engaging content, reflecting young adult interests.
The goal of the Student Readers' Choice Award programs is to promote reading for enjoyment and information, and to develop student appreciation for a diverse range of writing styles and genres.

Parents and students can choose other great summer reading titles from past winners and nominees posted on the Surrey Picture Book of the Year, Surrey Schools' Book of the Year and Surrey Teens Read​ websites.

Jul 15
District employee receives respected Big Brothers award
Surrey Schools Community Schools Partnership coordinator Mike Lally has been presented the Cecil S. Walker award by Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver.

The award, named after the charity’s co-founder, recognizes people who support the work of Big Brothers in the community.

For more than five years, Lally has been working on behalf of the district to facilitate and expand Big Brothers programs in Surrey schools in support of students.

In honouring Lally with the award, the charity notes he is “warm, friendly and a team player (who) shows genuine care for what our programs stand for”. 

Lally was also acknowledged for his continuous support of programs such as the YOUCAN Mentoring Program​ that supports at-risk elementary school youth with teen-to-child mentorship.

Programs like this and others would struggle to exist in Surrey without Lally’s tireless efforts says Big Brothers.

Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver was established in 1978 by co-founders Cecil S. Walker and Murray Goldman.

Jun 25
Blood drive saves lives

A friendly blood donation competition between teachers and students at a Surrey school has produced life-saving results.

The community at Guildford Park Secondary was moved to start the blood drive after hearing school teacher Iveta Finnson had needed multiple transfusions to keep her alive.


(Guildford Park Secondary students proudly wear their blood drive T-shirts)

Finnson has a rare condition called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, which only about 20 other people in British Columbia have. The condition stops her blood working properly and can be fatal. Treatment can use more than 300 units of donated blood.

“There has to be a constant supply of blood delivered to the bank,” says Finnson. “I don’t have the luxury to line up for it. I have to go to the hospital and be sure there is blood for me. I can’t say how thankful I am to the staff and students and everyone who participates in the drive.”

Fellow teachers Kristin Dorey and Tammie Stockli, and inner city school worker Julia Wood, decided they were going to give blood. Then the students said they wanted to give too and all embraced the resulting competition wholeheartedly.

“We have a magnificent group of students who want to help others and don’t have the financial means to help. To know that this was a different way that they can give, that was so powerful to them,” says Stockli.

And Dorey says she has loved seeing the students educating others about the lives they can save by giving blood.

As part of the effort to raise awareness, the students competed to create a design for T-shirts donated to the campaign, with the winning entry coming from Grade 11 student Veronica Bukowsky. The students won the T-shirts after beating the teachers by having a greater proportion of their eligible group take part. So far 75 students have registered as blood donors and 49 units have been donated, while 38 staff members have registered and 16 donated.

School vice-principal Navshina Savory says Canadian Blood Services have been wonderfully supportive in helping them run the blood drive. The school now plans to make this an annual initiative.​

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.”​

Jun 19
Surrey Board of Education foresight avoids service cuts to balance 2015-16 preliminary budget

With uncertainty regarding potential budget impacts of the teachers’ strike and a delay in provincial education funding details, the Surrey Board of Education avoided significant new or expanded program costs earlier in the school year.​

As a result, an anticipated budget surplus of $8.7 million projected for the end of June 2015, will balance the 2015-16 operating budget of $618 million. The budget is based on an enrolment projection of almost 69,500 full-time equivalent students, an estimated 200 additional students.

The district will receive $593 million in provincial operating grants after the $3.5 million reduction in administrative costs mandated by the Ministry of Education. Funding from district revenue sources, such as International Education and facility rentals, will contribute $19 million; $3 million more than last year.

“This budget does not come without challenges which include finding savings to fund contractual obligations, and infrastructure costs associated with a new provincial learning network,” says Surrey Board of Education Budget Committee chairperson Terry Allen. “We also continue to have to find funding for BC Hydro increases and increased benefit costs, and of course, one-time surplus funds cannot be relied upon to support ongoing programs.”

Eighty-six per cent of the total operating budget is dedicated to instructional and classroom support; 11 per cent to the operations and maintenance of schools and district facilities, two per cent for district administration (the lowest in the province), and one per cent on transportation.

Overall, the district plans to increase the number of staff positions by eight, including 23 more full-time equivalent education assistant positions.

The final school district operating grant will be based on the September 30, 2015 enrolment count and any adjustments to the preliminary budget will be made after that date.

Operating funds, along with special purpose funds and capital funds amount to a $699 million total 2015-16 preliminary budget. All figures have been rounded.

Jun 18
Surrey Schools athletes deliver strong track and field performances

​Surrey Schools students returned from the 2015 BC High School Track and Field Championship in Langley with more than 50 medals.

The future looks particularly bright for the junior girls with Semiahmoo, Earl Marriott, Clayton Heights and Lord Tweedsmuir secondary schools claiming four of the top five spots in the provincial team rankings.

(The record-setting Semiahmoo Secondary junior girls 4x100-metre and 4x400-metre relay team: (from left) Gabrielle Hack, Alexa Porpaczy, Hailey Ribiero and Jessica Williams)

Lord Tweedsmuir ranked third among the senior boys teams and Semiahmoo fourth among junior boys teams. The combined boys and girls junior team scores placed Semiahmoo and Earl Marriott third and fourth respectively.

Among the great individual performances, North Surrey Secondary’s Nathan Tadesse added the 1500-metre and 3000-metre titles to the senior boys cross country crown he won in the fall.

Jasneet Nijjer, of Queen Elizabeth Secondary, took triple gold, winning the Grade 8 girls 400-metre dash, 200-metre run and 80-metre hurdles.

Also claiming three golds were Semiahmoo junior girls Alexa Porpaczy and Jessica Williams, who are both coached by Scott Yewchuk. Porpaczy, Williams, Haley Ribeiro and Gabrielle Hack powered the Totems to 4x100-metre and 4x400-metre relay wins in provincial record time. Williams added gold in the 400-metre dash and Porpaczy jumped 1.7m to claim the high jump title. Hack took bronze in the triple jump.

In total, from 62 events, Surrey Schools athletes won gold in 19, silver in 12 and bronze in 11.

A list of the full results can be found on the BC High School Track and Field Championship website.

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