More than 1,700 students in Surrey now have better, larger places to learn, with the opening of two new schools and two expansions in the last year.
Much more is to come, as progress continues to be made to reduce portables in the district.
On Jan. 27, 2021, Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education, met with Laurie Larsen, chair, Surrey School Board, and Doug McCallum, mayor of Surrey, for a Surrey Summit on Schools. They discussed ways to continue expediting school expansion projects in the district and reaffirmed their shared commitment to provide better learning spaces for students as fast as possible.
“Our government has moved quickly to get students out of portables and invest in safer, larger schools for Surrey students and staff,” Whiteside said. “I am proud of these investments, and we will continue to build on the progress we’ve made to support Surrey families, now and for generations to come.”
The meeting between the three leaders was the sixth Surrey Summit in the last four years. The discussions focused on progress and successes, acquiring more sites for future schools and new goals and commitments to work together to deliver supported projects for students, on time and on budget.
The ministry, school district and city have been working together to find new ways to accelerate the pace of school construction. They have set aside land to ensure families moving to the community can send their children to schools close to home.
Since the last Surrey Summit in January 2020, Surrey families have benefited from this collaboration through the opening of the new Edgewood and Douglas elementary schools and the expansions of Frost Road and Pacific Heights elementary schools, the result of a total investment of $72.6 million.
In addition to these expansion projects, the new Maddaugh Elementary school and additions at Sullivan and Coyote Creek elementary schools are expected to open in the coming months. They will add another 905 student spaces to the Surrey School District.
“The Surrey School District is the largest and fastest growing district in the province. Our student population has been steadily increasing every year,” Larsen said. “We currently have almost 74,000 students, and we’re projecting an additional 1,000 students for the next school year. This type of growth requires strong partnerships – with all levels of government. I am so proud of the collaborative relationship we have with the Ministry of Education and the City of Surrey. Together, we are addressing the growth our community is experiencing and finding sustainable solutions that work for parents and students.”
The school expansions over the past 12 months are part of the $410 million invested in 25 Surrey school capital projects since September 2017, including seismic upgrades at six schools, 15 new or expanded schools and four land purchases for future schools.
This is helping to create nearly 8,900 new student seats in Surrey by 2023, eliminating the equivalent of nearly 360 portables. There are another six expansion projects currently supported by the Province that are expected to bring about 2,400 more new seats to the community once they are approved.
“The partnership that the City of Surrey has formed with the provincial government and Surrey School Board has been productive and is an example of how much we can accomplish when we work together towards a common goal,” McCallum said. “It is no secret that for many Surrey students, their classroom was in a portable, but that scenario is changing with the significant investments made in building new school infrastructure. I look forward to working with the Minister of Education and the Surrey School Board in continuing the positive progress we have made on this front.”
To further improve schools for students in Surrey, the Province has also invested $57 million for seismic upgrades at six schools, with upgrades complete at Mary Jane Shannon and Bear Creek elementary schools. Construction on seismic upgrades is underway at George Greenaway and Holly Elementary schools, and in the final design stages at Prince Charles Elementary school and Queen Elizabeth Secondary school.
To support this momentum, Budget 2020 includes a record $2.8 billion for school capital projects where they are needed throughout B.C.