With 780 more students projected to be attending district schools in September, the Surrey Board of Education plans to hire an additional 70 teachers and 81 education assistants for the 2016-2017 school year. Two school administrators, four professional staff and four support staff are also to be hired, bringing a total of 161 additional staff to the district.
Despite significant increases in enrolment, with a total of 71,115 students is projected for September, Surrey Schools expects to continue to have the lowest proportion of its operating budget spent on district administration in the province at just 2.11 per cent.
The board faced a $6.7 million deficit to duplicate existing programs and service levels for next year. However, the board's surplus of $6.3 million this year from unspent funds for snow clearing, unfilled positions and utility costs, as well as district revenues, will cover most of the deficit.
Last month, the Ministry of Education announced $25 million in redirected administrative savings would be returned to schools districts with Surrey Schools receiving $3.1 million. These funds will be used to offset the maintenance costs for the Next Generation Network fees of the same amount applied by the province.
"While we can't depend on surpluses every year in order to balance our budget, I'm pleased the board is in a position to be able to add staff in support of the students of the Surrey School District," says Surrey Board of Education Budget Committee chairperson Terry Allen.
Operating funds, along with special purpose and other funds, amount to a $722.7 million total 2016-17 preliminary budget. The final school district operating grant will be based on the September 30, 2016 enrolment count and any adjustments to the preliminary budget will be made after that date. All figures have been rounded.
Due to ongoing school enrolment pressures in the South Newton neighbourhood of Surrey, the Surrey Board of Education has voted unanimously to reduce the French Immersion program at École Woodward Hill Elementary from two kindergarten classes to one, beginning September 2017. Over subsequent years, the effect will be to eliminate one full "stream" of K-7 French Immersion classes.
Woodward Hill, located at 6082 142 St., has both French Immersion and English students. There are currently more than 300 children in the French Immersion program, comprising almost half of the school's student population. Approximately 20 of those students live in the catchment area of Woodward Hill.
The one-class reduction will not affect existing French Immersion students at the school and siblings will be grandfathered in, giving them first priority for new intake into the language program.
The change is being implemented to ensure that in the coming years, there are available spaces at the elementary school for students living within the catchment area, located in one of the fastest-growing neighbourhoods in the city.
French Immersion is one of many programs of choice offered by the Surrey School District. There are now seven elementary schools offering early French Immersion. Cougar Creek Elementary (12236 70A Ave.) is the newest addition. As of this week, there are 16 students registered for the new program, with enrolment expected to increase prior to the start of the 2016-2017 school year in September.
At the June 16 public board meeting, the Surrey Board of Education also approved a motion presented by Trustee Laurae McNally to devote the first trustee meeting of the upcoming school year to analyzing all choice programs, considering capacity, boundaries and policy revisions in terms of the school district's long range facilities and education plan.
Lack of capacity, said McNally, results in ongoing challenges to expanding and sustaining Surrey's programs of choice and the board must continually consider moving programs, which is a disruption to school communities.
Four Tamanawis Secondary students out-invested 1,650 teams from across Canada in a recent online stock market simulation contest, doubling their money in just six weeks.
The competition featured a game in which participants were given $100,000 to buy stocks from the Toronto Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange. At the end of it, the investments made by Grade 11 students Gurjot Waraich, Haider Tauseef, Harjap Thandi and Karan Dhillon of team Corn Hub rose higher than any other team's, leaving them with a final portfolio of $202,288 and the Invest JA competition win.
As you know, education in BC has been undergoing many changes. These changes are the results of years of collaborative work between our education partners and the Ministry of Education. The purpose of this note is to highlight important changes as we head toward the fall. One of the most significant changes for our secondary schools is the change to provincial exams. These changes will alter the exam structure and equally as important will alter calendars at the end of January and in June of next year.
For several years, we have tested core skills in grades 10, 11 and 12. Specifically, the subject areas tested are:
A student's final grade was always a blend of the trusted teacher assessments and the provincial exam. In grades 10 and 11, the teacher's classroom-based assessments counted for 80% of a student's final grade and the exam counted for 20%. In grade 12, the teacher's assessment counted for 60% and the exam counted for 40%. The provincial exams themselves have always been designed and written by teachers, and marked by teachers.
Beginning in 2016/17 there will be no provincial exams in grades 10. This does not mean that there are no standards and no expectations. Instead, rather than 80% of a student's mark being from the teacher, 100% of the mark will be based on teacher assessments. This is not a radical departure from practice and reaffirms our trust in teachers' classroom-based assessments which formed the vast bulk of a student's marks in any case and has always been based on the standards in our provincial curriculum.
Beginning 2016/17, in grades 11 and 12, students will still have 2 provincial exams. One exam in numeracy (math) and one exam in literacy (English).
For 2016/17 while the creation of a new numeracy exam is underway, there is no change to the English 12 provincial exam which follows the current curriculum.
Parents and students are used to a "Provincial Exam Schedule" at the end of January, which is semester turnaround, and in June, which marks the end of the year. These schedules often resulted in many days where students were not fully in session as exams were being written. Many students wrote exams and many students did not. Specifically, the last week of January and the last two weeks of June were primarily for exams. The above change to exams will certainly change how we do semester turnaround and year-end given that the number of exams is being reduced.
As is our normal practice, we are reaching out to teachers and to our administrators to discuss what these changes look like. When we know for certain the structure of the dates, we will be communicating to parents. This news does not mean a shorter school year; what it likely means is more "full" days in session in the coming year. Again, the full details are to be discussed and will be communicated.
For those headed to post-secondary institutions, we have worked closely with our post-secondary partners and these changes were considered in light of recommendations from an Advisory Group on Provincial Assessments (AGPA) that was co-chaired by representatives of UBC and Simon Fraser University. Not only has post-secondary been part of the conversations, they have helped shape these changes and have been important partners in the process.
There are other changes, but we wanted to communicate this piece to parents as soon as possible so they are aware of the Ministry changes to provincial exams and the implications for next year. As stated above, teachers have always been central to the process of creating and marking provincial exams and the bulk of student marks were always based on classroom assessments. Students will still have standardized assessments in literacy and numeracy before they leave secondary school. We trust our teachers, we stand by the quality of their work and their classroom assessments and, from a district perspective, the changes to exams are welcome changes indeed.
Jordan TinneySuperintendent of Schools/CEO
Through-out the district, May 6 was a busy day, with virtually all staff groups participating in a variety of professional development day, or Pro-D day learning sessions.
Surrey teachers participated in the annual Surrey Teachers' Association Convention. The STA convention is the largest teacher-led professional development event in B.C. It is fully organized and funded by the Surrey Teachers' Association. Thousands of teachers attended events at Johnston Heights Secondary, Kwanten Park Secondary, K.B. Woodward Elementary, Mountainview Montessori and David Brankin Elementary.
(Photo: Native author Richard Wagamese speaking at the STA Convention)
This year, the STA Convention theme was Changing Our Ways: Weaving Threads of Truth and Reconciliation Throughout our Practice. The event featured keynote addresses from Richard Wagamese, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, and Susan Aglukark. There were also over 200 workshops on a wide range of educational topics, including embedding Aboriginal perspectives and knowledge into classroom teaching.
For CUPE support staff, several sessions were tailored to the work of specific staff, such as clerical, custodial, maintenance, education assistants, systems support and more.
Training was therefore varied; from time management, software courses and the MyEd student information system, to trauma-sensitive schooling, communication dynamics and connecting with autistic students as presented by autistic guest speaker Alexander Magnussen.
District school administrators, through the Surrey Principals and Vice-Principals Association (SPVPA) held their own Pro-D day. They heard from renowned developmental psychologist and speaker Dr. Gordon Neufeld. Dr. Neufeld has more than 40 years of experience with children and youth and is a foremost authority on child development.
Thousands of students and parents are being asked for their views as Surrey Schools prepares for the opening of a new state-of-the-art secondary school.
When the school at 7278 – 184 St. in the Clayton area of Surrey opens in 2018 it will ease overcrowding at École Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary and Clayton Heights Secondary. Those schools are running at 149 per cent and 133 per cent of capacity respectively.
Surrey Schools is asking the Clayton and Cloverdale communities for their views as it develops new catchment boundaries to balance student numbers between the three schools. The review will also consider where the secondary French Immersion program for the area should be located.
(School design and renderings by KMBR Architects & Planners)
A dedicated website –
www.placespeak.com/new-clayton-secondary – has been launched to explain the process, to share the options explored by Surrey Schools and to gather public feedback via an online survey. Students at elementary schools in the Clayton and Cloverdale area, and Grade 8 and 9 students at Clayton Heights and Lord Tweedsmuir, have been given information packages to take home.
Furthermore, Surrey Schools is hosting a series of community forums to share information about the potential boundary changes. Each forum runs from 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m.:
Families are being encouraged to attend the specific evening for their own school in order to balance forum attendance numbers for each meeting. However, as the information presented at each forum will be the same, they can attend another evening if that suits them better.
The consultation period runs until June 14, 2016.
Burnaby School District secretary-treasurer, D. Greg Frank has been chosen by the Surrey Board of Education to succeed retiring secretary-treasurer Wayne Noye, effective August 1, 2016.
Mr. Frank CA, CPA has been secretary-treasurer with the Burnaby School District for 16 years. Prior to that, he was the secretary-treasurer for Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District.
"Mr. Frank was among several talented and knowledgeable individuals presented to the board to evaluate and select from," says Surrey Board of Education chairperson Shawn Wilson. "In Mr. Frank we have someone who not only has the necessary experience and expertise, but also someone who has vast experience with governance and negotiations with government and various stakeholders. We anticipate that Mr. Frank will be an excellent fit for the district and we look forward to working with him."
The board's selection concludes an extensive, nation-wide search conducted by an executive recruitment firm.
District and environment also winners from student energy conservation efforts
As the largest school district in the province, Surrey Schools has an important leadership role to play when it comes to inspiring future generations. Projects and services to promote sustainability have been part of the Surrey culture for many years, and energy conservation has been a foundational element of the districts sustainability efforts.
One of the annual sustainability projects is called the Energy Conservation Cup, which is a six-month competition between secondary schools to see which one can save the most energy. Each school is rewarded points for both energy savings and participation in conservation programs throughout the year, with the highest scoring school winning the Cup. The "Elite Eight" energy savers compete for the Cup in "Finals Week". This year's competition came down to the wire. Although Queen Elizabeth Secondary saved the most during the final week, Fraser Heights Secondary came out on top as the overall 2016 Energy Conservation Cup winner and Sullivan Heights Secondary placed a close second. Fraser Heights saved an incredible 5.8% of their average energy use.
"We were surprised that we won! It showed us that the small actions that we take every day really do add up. " said Natasha Zhang, a student leader at Fraser Heights.
Representatives from the Surrey School District, BC Hydro and energy intelligence software provider EnerNOC were all on had to present the Energy Conservation Cup trophy to students and staff at Fraser Heights just in time for Earth Day. In addition to bragging rights for the next year, Fraser Heights will receive $1,000 from the superintendent's office to support ongoing conservation and student leadership initiatives in their school.
Saving energy is becoming part of daily life across the Surrey School District, with many different projects happening at both elementary and secondary schools. The Energy Conservation Cup drives home the message that reducing energy consumption is more than turning off the lights one day of the year. For energy conservation efforts to be effective, they need to be persistent over the long term. Staff and students work together to find creative ways of reaching their peers and showing them how they can change their habits to be more efficient.
"Energy conservation is about innovation and planning for the future, and those two skills are essential for the success of our students in any path they choose." said Jordan Tinney, Superintendent of Schools.
Over the last six months, Surrey Schools has reduced electrical energy consumption by 4.4% compared to baselines using historical data from the previous year. This amounts to a total of 403,800 kWh of energy saved by the schools so far this school year – enough electricity to power 36 homes for year. Simple choices, like unplugging electrical devices when they are not in use, turning down heating and cooling systems along with other actions such as recycling, composting and walking to school, make a big difference in reducing the districts' overall environmental footprint.
For inquiries about the Energy Conservation Cup, contact:
Tracy Blagdon, Manager, Energy Management & Sustainability
In response to "explosive" population growth in three regions of the district in particular that has led to several overcrowded schools, the Surrey Board of Education is asking the mayor and council of the City of Surrey to suspend all new development approvals in those regions.
The unprecedented move comes from a motion introduced by trustee Laurae McNally at the board's public board meeting that was unanimously supported by board members.
The motion states:
Whereas there is explosive population growth in the Clayton, Grandview/South Surrey and South Newton regions of Surrey; and
Whereas the provincial government has been unable to provide adequate capital infrastructure to accommodate the population growth; and
Whereas it takes two to three years after government approvals to provide additional facilities to welcome new students; and
Whereas the Surrey School District is forecasting an additional 1,000 students for the 2016/2017 school year;
Therefore, be it resolved that the board direct the chairperson to communicate to the mayor and council, City of Surrey that they temporarily suspend all new development approvals in the Clayton, Grandview/South Surrey and South Newton regions until the Surrey School District receives adequate provincial capital funding to support the many new students moving into these regions; and that the chairperson also copy the Minister of Education, the Minister of Finance, the local MLA's and the construction industry.
The board also unanimously supported a motion to review the current capital plan's project priorities.
On another issue, trustee Terry Allen introduced a motion regarding the provincial government's proposal for shared services among school districts. The board unanimously passed the motion that the board ask the Minister of Education to ensure any shared services benefits and financial savings be documented and regularly reported to school districts.
The minister is also to be given notice that if there are no clear savings or improvement to services by June 30, 2018, the Surrey School District intends to withdraw from the Employment Practices Liability component of the shared services program.
Surrey Schools is one of just 65 employers nationally "that lead the nation in creating a culture of environmental awareness", according to Canada's Greenest Employers competition organizers and judges at the Canada's Top 100 Employers project in Toronto.
It is the first time Surrey Schools has submitted an application to be considered for the award, and the honour comes two months after the district was named one of BC's Top Employers.
"This recognition is rewarding in so many ways," says Surrey Board of Education chairperson Shawn Wilson. "The award recognizes many years of ongoing efforts on many fronts by our board to ensure sustainability and environmental sensitivity is a priority in our district.
Each employer is evaluated in terms of: