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Catchment Transition Q&A

Pacific Heights Catchment Transition to Elgin Park Q&A

To submit questions to this Q&A, please email

May 1, 2019: Transportation has put together two draft bus routes for students going to Elgin Park in the fall.

The routes have been sent to Pacific Heights Elementary for review. Planning took into consideration the wishes of the community for routes with the shortest wait times.

Elgin Park 1 AM.PDF
Elgin Park 2 AM.pdf

The district decided on two bus routes in order to minimize travel time. The routes will be 32 and 36 minutes versus a single route that would run well over one hour. Both routes are timed to arrive at Elgin Park at 8:15 a.m.

April 10, 2019: We have compiled the questions from the April 9 meeting at Pacific Heights and are in the process of responding to them. Answers will be posted below.

1. What other options were considered?

It is important to start with guiding principles. When options were being considered, key considerations were to move the smallest number of students to mitigate the situation. This was not just about overcrowding. It was more importantly about the ability to offer appropriate educational programming for students, specifically at Grade 8.

Option #1: Extended Day at Earl Marriott Secondary

  • Keeps all children together
  •  Overcrowding Ability to access requested courses
  • Loss of opportunities for extracurricular
  • Time of day for students
  • Historically, staff have reported a negative cultural impact of extended day at this school due to multiple lunch times and limited ability for staff to interact
  • Returns the school to about 2,000 students, which is very large and makes it difficult to coordinate adults on flex schedules

At the meeting with EMS staff, staff requested we not return to extended day given the impact on the students, the school culture and the opportunities for both staff and students.

The configuration of EMS is different from other schools where extended day has been more successful.

Option #2: Remove all Grade 8s from EMS

 Keeps the entire Grade 8 cohort together
  • We do not currently have a space that can accommodate this large cohort
  • Access to specialty enrolling space such as shops, art, drama, home ec, science labs.

Could not provide comprehensive educational program.

Could we access appropriate space for lease? No.

Option #3: Land more than two portables at EMS

 Keeps all the Grade 8s together
  • If we landed more than two portables, we would need to use either the parking lot or the field. Permits from the City of Surrey would be required to amend the parking requirements.
  • Loss of field space that is being used for P.E. classes and extracurricular
  • Would lack gym, music, science space, fine arts and applied skills spaces

We are putting two more portables onto EMS for 2019-20.

Option #4: Open Grandview Elementary

  •  Could accommodate a cohort
  • Significant cost to update school to code required to reopen the facility
  • Not enough time
  • Would lack gym, music, science space, fine arts and applied skills spaces

The school has been closed for multiple years and would require substantial renovations and likely millions of dollars to bring it into service. The school is also an elementary school so there would be inadequate gym and science labs as one example for a secondary program.

In addition, this site may be needed for a land swap with the Ministry of Education to support the development of other school sites. If we did renovate and reopen it, we may have to then dispose of it.

Option #5: Put a Sprung structure (flexible fabric) onto a field or parking lot

  • Could potentially be moved when needed in other areas
  • Cost and time
  • Space

If we could get a Sprung structure, where would we put it and at what cost?

Would need to further investigate the viability of a Sprung structure for classroom use.

Option #6: Move a single elementary cohort to Elgin Park

  • Keeps friendship groups together
  • Allows for appropriate educational programming
  • Divides a group of students from future friendship groups that would all go to Grandview in 2021
  • Busing costs

Need to move the smallest cohort available and then maximize portables (2) at EMS to address increased enrolment. Can't move a large cohort as the impact on Elgin Park is too big. We need to preserve space at Elgin Park for in-catchment waitlists from EMS and Semi.

Option #7: Bus all Grade 8 students (who feed into EMS) to multiple other schools in the district where there is space

  • Creates a Grade 9-12 school at EMS and will address overcrowding
  • Busing costs
  • Fragments the cohort
  • Causes unnecessary movement for students who would continue onto EMS after Grandview opens

2. Could we build the new school in phases and open a wing to accommodate the Grade 8s by 2020?

Typically, we do not build schools in wings. For example, all concrete is poured at the same time, then electrical work, roofing, etc.

Building a wing has not been contemplated. However, once this construction contract is awarded, the district will work with the contractor to accelerate the build.

3. Why did we choose Pacific Heights?

Pacific Heights was the smallest cohort that could be moved. These students were already partially bused and would have already been scheduled to move again as soon as the new Grandview Heights Secondary is open.

4. Will consideration be given to families with older siblings at EMS?

Yes. The sibling rule will apply, meaning that if you have a sibling at EMS, we will honour your desire to keep your family together at EMS if that is what you choose. We will also honour your decision to go to Elgin Park Secondary if that is your choice.

5. Have we considered the impact on the small number of students who will be eligible to remain at EMS?

Yes. We would encourage those parents to consider their options and then meet with their school principal about the specific concerns about their child. For example, does a child who chooses to stay with their sibling still have a friendship group?

6. Will consideration be given to students attending the hockey academy?


7. Will consideration be given to students who are in the current Pacific Heights catchment that will remain at EMS in the Grandview Heights consultation options?


8. Would we consider allowing students to remain at Elgin Park if they want to continue there?

Given the unusual circumstances around this move, we would give this strong consideration. The key will likely be busing and whether we would be able to continue to provide it.

9. Will Grandview Heights Secondary actually be built? There has not been a ground breaking ceremony. Why not?

The tender has closed. It is within budget and we are in the process of awarding the construction contract at which point construction will begin. We are currently in the process of scheduling the ground breaking ceremony.

10. Has funding been given to the school district for the project? Could the project be sidelined due to lack of funds?

The tender has closed. It is within the budget and the contract is being awarded. We have received the funding to proceed which initiated the tender.

11. Will we give consideration to special needs students who transition to Elgin Park? Transitioning is hard for students in the BASES programs and may need to be viewed differently.

We need to look at all students and that will be part of our transition process. Elgin Park has a strong BASES program and we may consider not moving this particular group of students a second time if that is what the families wish.

12. How are projections done and why did we not know sooner?

Projections are done each January and are monitored throughout the year. This begins with an update in late November to our student information and projection tools that are based on our actual Sept. 30th enrolment.

Our early projections did not indicate this scenario, but when actual enrolment started to come in through the student registration and course selection process in January and February, it was higher than anticipated, which is common as projections are always a highly informed guess. Sometimes they come in higher and sometimes lower. As a result, it was late February and into early March that we realized this scenario would truly unfold. We had previously been working with the EMS staff to see if there was any way we could utilize space differently as a means to avoid extended day and multiple new portables.

13. Would we consider transition activities for the Grandview Heights cohort ahead of Grandview opening so that students can get to know each other?

Absolutely. We can work with the secondary schools to look at ways to create opportunities for interaction. We will work with the PACs to form such a working group.

14. Is this move a done deal? Why was it presented as a proposal?

We see no other viable option that will keep EMS off of extended day and limit the number of portables that can be placed and physically housed at EMS. Semiahmoo also has similar constraints.

There are always scenarios that emerge that you have not foreseen. If we felt we had time for a full consultation process, then we would likely do that, but the reality is that students are doing their course selection right now and we need to begin our transition activities. Schools are also staffed on their incoming student numbers and staffing is well underway. We cannot wait two months to determine where these students will go. It would be unfair to them to leave it all up in the air not knowing where they would attend.

15. Were the other schools contacted and advised of the overcrowding? If not, why not? Suggesting it is about numbers is incomprehensible – the numbers are so small, it doesn't make sense. The number provided was 40 students – if my son, and several others who have siblings and/or are involved in Academies go to EMS, that number of 40 quickly begins to dwindle. It is inconceivable that a solution could not be found which doesn't result in movement for these kids.

Other schools were not contacted and advised of the overcrowding. The other cohorts that will eventually feed to Grandview Heights in 2021 are Rosemary Heights, Morgan, and East Kensington. A cohort size of maximum 30 students creates eight classroom spaces.

SchoolGrade 6 cohort sizeGrade 7 cohort size
East Kensington00
Pacific Heights5442
Rosemary Heights8377

If we moved a different cohort to Elgin Park, it moves too many students and causes capacity issues at Elgin Park as they are also taking all of the in catchment waitlist students from both Semi and EMS.

16. Was the situation presented to other parties, for input and resolution, outside of your leadership group?

Yes. The Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent met with the EMS staff committee. We were invited to provide an update on the progress of the Grandview Heights Secondary construction. In addition, questions were asked, and suggestions were generated on how to best address the overcrowding at EMS. That meeting generated many of the ideas outlined in Question 1.

The Assistant Superintendent met with the administrative teams from EMS, Semiahmoo Secondary and Elgin Park Secondary to review the January Grade 7 transition numbers. At those meetings it was agreed to allow the acceptance of cross boundaries out of EMS immediately as opposed to waiting until September (normal timeline). In addition, the French Immersion cohorts were contacted to confirm if any students were leaving the program and would be feeding to their catchment school by address. It was agreed that both EMS and Semiahmoo start in-catchment waitlists for all families that resided in their communities but had children that had not attended a feeder school. This impacts all children currently in private schools or who have moved into the catchment but not changed elementary schools.

The senior team meets monthly with the Program and Facilities Planning Committee. All concerns and subsequent decisions are reviewed at this meeting prior to being shared with the Board of Education.   This committee consists of members from the Capital Planning Office, Business Management Department, School Planning Department, Secretary-Treasurer's Office, Facilities and Maintenance Departments.

17. Was the Ministry of Education contacted? Was there consideration to temporarily increasing class size limits with appropriate monetary compensation/remedy to those teachers, counselors, etc. such that these students could continue in the path already laid?

There are regular meetings with the Ministry of Education regarding overcrowding in the Surrey School District. We raised this specific issue directly with the Minister of Education and the Mayor seeking their help. For one example, the Mayor suggested that we could look at noise bylaws to allow construction to go on for more hours in a day. This is just an example of how we were brainstorming together talking about how critical our space issues are.

We meet with the Minister of Education regularly and overcrowding is on every agenda. We are also reviewing childcare and before and after school care spaces. The impacts go beyond daily instruction.

Class size limits are mandated by a Memorandum of Agreement that was negotiated by provincial parties. As such, the Ministry of Education would not have the authority to remove those limits.

18. Was the staff at EMS consulted to see whether they had any solutions? If so, what were their responses and why were they discarded?

Yes. Many ideas were generated and each one was carefully considered. The proposal to move a cohort and bus them to Elgin Park was one of the suggestions by EMS staff.

19. Why was the situation not presented to all feeder schools and a request made for voluntary moves? If the difference is only 40 students, there is a reasonable likelihood that the moves could have been made by those who want a change.

Through the regular cross boundary process, all families can request a cross boundary into a school that is not closed to cross boundary requests. Elgin Park has already accepted all of these requests. If we asked for volunteers, we would be faced with a more complex busing situation. If we did not have enough volunteers, we would have had to choose a cohort of students. Our desire was to preserve a cohort to maintain friendship groups.

20. How many international students attend EMS?

Currently, there are 79 students across Grades 8-12. This number is down significantly from previous years and we expect that fewer than 50 international students will attend EMS in the 2019-20 school year.

The district strategy will continue to be decreasing the cohort size as students exit or graduate.  International students who have been accepted into our district have had the option of continuing until graduation at their current or subsequent feeder school.

21. Was consideration given to moving international students to Elgin Park?

Yes. This work is currently underway. Because of the Grade 8 cohort size, we are not able to accommodate any new internationals students. The international department is working to secure alternate placements for every student who had previously been offered a space at EMS. In addition, all new applications from Grade 9-12 have also been diverted.

22. Where will students get picked up and dropped off by the bus?

We plan to create a route with bus stops throughout the catchment that coincide with the location of the students residences. We currently have several locations that we use for students going to Earl Marriott that have been identified as safe locations for buses to stop and for students to have a safe zone to load and unload. Students will be expected to walk short distances to get to their assigned bus stop.

23. Will it be the same pick up and drop off as the EMS bus?

The pickup and drop off location currently in use at Elgin Park for the Semiahmoo catchment students will be the same location we will use, which also shares with the TransLink “special” bus. Large buses are not able to transit through the school’s front pickup and drop off area due to the tight left turn getting in. All buses are numbered so students will have to check their bus number to ensure they are on the correct bus. Drivers are assigned specific routes for the year so they will get to know their driver, however spare drivers will be used if a driver is away.

24. Is it possible to have two pick up times after school to accommodate those students who stay after school playing sports, doing extra-curricular activities or getting extra help from teachers?

Our buses can hold up to 52 passengers. If we have more students than that to transport there will be a second run right after the first one. Otherwise we do not normally offer extended hours of service.

Students in extra-curricular activities are expected to find their own rides home. That being said, this is something we should talk about. We do have the ability to do this but would require overtime for the driver, and as mentioned, it is not offered to any other location. Last year, it was not provided to the Semiahmoo students that had to go to Elgin Park. It was not asked for either.

Questions from April 9 meeting:


When will Grandview Heights Secondary open?

We anticipate opening in September 2021.

How many students are we expecting to open Grandview with? What will the breakdown of the student population look like.

We are expecting to open Grandview with approximately 800 students.

What is the capacity of Grandview Heights Secondary?

1,500 students.

Can the district offer financial incentives to open Grandview sooner? Will there be financial penalties if they’re late?

At this stage in the project development there are no opportunities to apply financial penalties nor incentives. The procurement method used for construction of this project followed an established government contractual process. Any changes to our contract with the general contractor at this point would put the district at risk from all bidders (successful and unsuccessful).

During the final contract negotiations, the district did negotiate a six-week reduction in the construction period and we are confident the construction timeline is reasonable and is consistent with our expectations. The district will continue to work closely with our professional team and contractor to manage the project completion timeline.

Will Grandview be large enough to accommodate the rapid development in the area?

We will likely have to build another secondary school in the future. We are already discussing this with capital planning.

Will there be portables?

Grandview will open under capacity so portables will not be necessary.

Why wasn't Grandview built on the land closer to the aquatic centre?

The district does not own that land.

Will there be Grade 12 when it opens?

No. Grandview will only have Grades 8-11 when it opens.

What are the expected classroom sizes?

As mandated by the Memorandum of Agreement, secondary classes are capped at 30 students, except for specialty spaces, which are capped at 24.

Will students have lockers?

Yes. Lockers will be placed strategically throughout the school.

Will there be playing fields? A theatre? A library?

Yes, there will be two playing fields, a 176-seat theatre and a library.

Will the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre bge accessible for students?

As we get closer to the new building, we will explore opportunities for our students to access the aquatic centre during the day.

When do we assign a new principal?

Typically one year in advance. Next year at this time, a principal will be appointed one year in advance. They will start working with feeder schools, secondary schools and the community to help make things as successful as possible.

Is there a struggle for staff when a new school opens?

No. Staff must post in to the school on a special bulletin. They are not placed at the new school.

Will Grandview do course selection at the same time as Elgin Park in 2021 when Grandview opens?

We set the principal in a satellite office and they are in touch with student digitally and meet with them. They do their course selection earlier than other schools. The reason is that we can hire staff from the course selection. We hire secretaries early so that if children needed assistance early, it will be available.

Will sports teams, clubs, etc. be established before Grandview opens?

If there is a lot of interest in bands, sports, etc., the principal will meet with students and gather input. Students were surveyed at transition meetings about their interests. We start by listening to students and creating opportunities, then look at the areas of interest and how to staff for that.

I currently have a child attending EMS, and another who will attend Elgin Park. Can they both go to Grandview when it opens?


Will students have an opportunity to get to know each other as they transition to Elgin Park?

Transition activities are starting at Elgin Park, and the Pacific Heights cohort will be part of those. The first will be the "Whale of a Day" event on April 17.

Will Grandview have an International Baccalaureate program?

No. The International Baccalaureate program will remain at Semiahmoo Secondary.

Elgin Park

When will students receive their schedule for classes at Elgin Park?

All new students to Elgin, Grade 8 or new to the school, get a paper copy mailed at the end of summer. From then on, students view their schedule by using the Student Portal.

Is it possible to share these course selection options with families from Pacific Heights?

Yes, please see the Elgin Park Secondary Grade 8 Course Selection form for more information on the options.

EPS Grade 8 Course Selection 2019-20.pdf

Can Pacific Heights parents attend the Grade 8 information night?

The Parent Information Night was Thursday April 4th. Many Pacific Heights parents attended.

What is the bell schedule at Elgin Park?

Please see the bell schedule on Elgin Park’s website. Next year’s bell schedule will be the same as this year.

How are school counsellors connected with students at Elgin Park?

All high school counsellors connect with students in many ways. Counsellors help with decisions in course selection (academic/career counselling) and help students with personal counselling and our counsellors are a big support for the social emotional development of our students. In Grade 8 in late September, counsellors bring students from classes to meet them in small groups and talk about the supports and services they offer. They also review the process to see students. All students can make an appointment with their counsellor at anytime.

Do you think you will need more counsellors than the three that you have?

Elgin Park currently has three counsellors. As the student population increases, Elgin Park’s entitlement to more counsellors will increase.

How are student activities organized?

Student Council, known as STUCO, organizes many of the student activities at Elgin Park. Theme days, celebrations, intramurals (soccer, dodgeball, and hockey) and various contests are some of the many events that STUCO organizes. STUCO also helps students connect with clubs by hosting the annual club day early in the school year. Many clubs also organize and lead student activities.

What sports are open to Grade 8 students?

For information on sports at Elgin Park, visit our athletics web page.

How can parents make themselves aware of sports and clubs that are available to students?

Check the following websites and use the Orca News app by Appazur on iPhone or Android.


Where is your school in terms of sports scholarships and opportunities?

We have a variety of students who receive scholarships in sports. We have an active staff scholarship committee and have student ambassadors to help students learn about scholarship opportunities.

Is girls soccer by grade or are students grouped together?

This grade breakdown depends on the numbers of participants/players. This may vary from year to year.

Do Grade 8 sports team practices tend to be earlier than the older students?

Yes, this is the attempt, however, the times of practices are most often dependent on the coach’s schedule.

Do you offer college showcase opportunities?

No, none of the South Surrey-White Rock secondary schools (Elgin Park, Semiahmoo and Earl Marriott) offer college showcase opportunities.


When will the transportation schedule be made available?

Transportation is currently looking at optimal bus routes based on student addresses and parent feedback. A preliminary schedule will be provided before May 31. Final schedules and transportation letters will be provided to Elgin Park Secondary school office by August 19.

How long will the route take? How many stops will there be? How does the district balance the number of stops with travel time?

Routes can take up to one hour. Students are expected to walk a short distance to stops. This minimizes the number of stops and keep the route times as short as possible.

How many students will each bus hold?

Each bus can transport 52 students.

Will this be a dedicated route or a shared route with Earl Marriott Secondary?

We will consider all options with the goal of creating the shortest and most direct route(s) to minimize student travel time.

Will out-of-catchment students at Pacific Heights have a bus route to Elgin Park?

The entire cohort of current Grade 6 & 7 students will be provided bus service to Elgin Park.

Will out-of-catchment students at Pacific Heights have a bus route to Grandview?

When Grandview opens, busing to this school will be provided to in-catchment students living over 4.8 km from the school. Fee-paying courtesy seats will be offered to students who live in the catchment but reside less than 4.8 km from the school. Courtesy riders will be expected to find their way to existing bus stops.

Is there consideration for running two buses to accommodate students and shorten trips?

All options will be considered.

How will busing work when both the current Grade 6 & 7 students attend Elgin Park?

Based on projected enrolment of 96 students, there will be a minimum of two bus routes to accommodate the number of students. Each bus can transport 52 students.

Could the bus pick up students from a central location to minimize the number of stops?

Yes this is an option. Feedback from parents at the recent meeting was that this may not be a preferable option due to the distance students must travel to get to a central location.

If a student decides to stay at Elgin Park, will bus service remain?

The busing to Elgin is a temporary measure only and will be discontinued once Grandview Heights Secondary opens.

How many buses is the district planning on using? Will there be a later bus for students taking extra-curricular / after school activities?

Transportation for extra-curricular / after school activities is not currently provided to any of our schools. The request is duly noted and will be given consideration.

Is there public transportation available? Is there enough demand for public transportation given the rapid development in Grandview and now this Pacific Heights transition?

TransLink does not currently have any buses travelling along 24th avenue. We will reach out to TransLink requesting a bus route along 24th Avenue. Concerned parents are encouraged to make their requests known by submitting feedback on the TransLink website at

What are the implications of snow / winter driving conditions with regard to busing?

We have professional drivers navigating the buses through the snow. If there are streets that become unsafe, we will re-route the bus. Notifications of any changes or delays can be received by students and parents by subscribing to the Elgin Park App "Orca News" bus group.

How will kids know which bus stop to wait at?

The Transportation Department has routing software that will identify the closest bus stop to the student's residence. This information will be provided in a letter from the Transportation Department to the student/parents via the school office.

What is the current bus route to EMS? What is the duration of the EMS bus route for comparison?

There are three runs that pass through the Pacific Heights catchment en route to Earl Marriott. Two of the runs are the same bus and driver. The total time for these two runs is 58 minutes. The route stops and times for this route are attached.

Run 3362 – 1

#1 - 7:25 AM – 171 Street & 24 Avenue
#2 - 7:27 AM – 26 Avenue & 176 Street
#3 - 7:28 AM – 175 Street & 28b Avenue
#4 - 7:29 AM - 17412 29 Avenue
#5 - 7:30 AM – 29 Avenue & Country Woods Drive
#6 - 7:31 AM - Hillview Place & Country Woods Drive
#7 - 7:33 AM – 29 Avenue & 176 Street
#8 - 7:34 AM - Country Woods Drive & 26 Avenue
#9 - 7:35 AM – 170 Street & 26 Avenue
#10 - 7:36 AM - 168 Street & 26 Avenue
#11 - 7:38 AM – 30A Avenue & 168 Street
#12 - 7:42 AM - 165 Street & 28 Avenue
#13 - 7:43 AM - 28 Avenue & 168 Street
#14 – 7:51 AM – Earl Marriott Secondary

Run 3362 – 2

#1 - 8:05 AM - 162 Street & 28 Avenue
#2 - 8:06 AM - 28 Avenue & 164 Street
#3 - 8:07 AM - 26 Avenue & 164 Street
#4 - 8:09 AM – 164 Street & 24 Avenue
#5 - 8:12 AM - 22A Avenue & 168 Street
#6 - 8:23 AM - Earl Marriott Secondary

A third, single run has stops primarily east of the Pacific Heights catchment. It makes five stops in the south east area of the catchment. Total time for this route is 35 minutes.

What will the bus route look like for Elgin Park?

We are currently preparing two or three proposed options which we will share within the next two weeks.

How will the district guarantee students will get to school on time, given the congestion during morning rush hour along 24th Avenue?

The route will be timed according to the morning rush. Routing software takes time of day and stop load/unload times into account. We also drive the route at the specified times prior to implementation to test the actual times.

Will there be a trial run for the bus route? On a school day?

Yes, the trial runs will be done in a school bus, on a school day, at the same time the bus will be travelling.

How early will students have to be at their bus stop?

They are expected to plan their arrival to the bus stop five minutes ahead of time. This will allow them to safely arrive to their bus stop and avoid the need to rush when crossing streets.

Will the driver wait if a student is running behind?

It is our goal to ensure that students get to school. The driver will wait for those students he/she sees running for the bus as we do not want to leave anyone behind. However, the students are expected to be at their bus stop five minutes ahead of schedule. Drivers cannot wait for students as delays affect all students along the route. Drivers are expected to follow their schedule. If they are early, they hold the bus until the planned departure time.

Has the district taken into consideration the health of students who may arrive home late and have to be up early the following morning to catch the bus?

We have two bus routes that begin at 7:20 a.m. and 7:25 a.m. All others begin after 7:30 a.m. These start times are necessary to ensure that students arrive at school on time.

How far in advance of school start time do buses arrive? How far after school do buses leave?

Bus schedules are created to have students arrive 10-15 minutes before bell time.

Are there seat belts on the buses?

None of our buses have seat belts.

Are there any buses that currently go to Elgin Park?

There is one bus that goes to Elgin Park from the Sunnyside area after unloading some students at Semiahmoo Secondary.

Is it standard for students to have to be at their bus no later than 10 minutes after school?

This is the standard for all our bus routes. For those routes that have two runs, the second run leaves later, after returning from the first run.

How far will students have to walk from their homes to their bus stops?

Eligible riders are not expected to walk more than one km to a bus stop (roughly 10 minutes).

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