Surrey Summit looks at new ways to improve schools for students

Rob Flemming

FINDING new ways to speed up school construction so more students can learn in positive, engaging and inspiring classrooms was the focus of the most recent Surrey Summit between the Ministry of Education, Surrey School Board and City of Surrey.

“Our government has made great progress for students in Surrey, with shovels in the ground at new and expanded schools throughout the district, and we need to keep pushing ahead,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “It takes real, committed partnerships to meet the community’s need for school space as Surrey continues to grow – and this summit will help us remove roadblocks and work together so more families can send their children to positive, modern and engaging schools in the near future.”

On July 5, Fleming met with Doug McCallum, Mayor of Surrey; Laurie Larsen, Chair, Surrey Board of Education; trustees and councillors, as well as district, ministry and city officials, to continue their work to speed up the pace of new school construction by reducing permit times, decreasing costs, collaborating on property purchases for school sites and further reducing other barriers to the time it takes to build a school.

“The opportunity to regularly sit down across the table with our key school construction partners has had real results,” said Larsen. “Our board can explain some of our challenges directly with those who can assist us, and together we’re moving projects forward more quickly and efficiently.”

This was the fourth Surrey Summit since September 2017, building on the partnership between the three parties to work together to accelerate the creation of new, modern educational environments in the rapidly growing city.

“Regular summit meetings allow us to work on our mutual goal of advancing the construction of new schools and infrastructure for Surrey students,” said McCallum. “These meetings are an opportunity for frank discussion and collaborative problem solving. City council is constantly looking to put our smart development principles into action, and by working together with the Province and school district, we are tackling the problem of overcrowding in Surrey schools.”

Since September 2017, the Government of B.C. has approved new funding of $226.7 million for new schools, expansions, seismic upgrades and land purchases for future schools in Surrey.

Including school expansions that opened in 2018, about 9,450 new student seats are either approved or under business-case development in Surrey. This demonstrates government’s commitment to reduce portables as fast as possible and to give students a great educational experience.

The Province funds a capital project office in Surrey that is dedicated to speeding up the pace of school construction.

With more work to do to meet the growing demand for school space in Surrey and other fast-growing districts in B.C., Budget 2019 includes a record $2.7 billion for school capital projects that will give students a better place to learn at schools throughout the Province.

Quick Facts:

The following school expansion projects are underway in Surrey:

* Panorama Park Elementary (200-seat addition, complete October 2019)

* Pacific Heights Elementary (300-seat addition, complete April 2020)

* Coyote Creek Elementary (100-seat addition, complete September 2020)

* Frost Road Elementary (150-seat addition, complete September 2020)

* Sullivan Elementary (200-seat addition, complete September 2020)

* Maddaugh Road Elementary (605-seat new school, complete January 2021)

* Edgewood Drive Elementary (655-seat new school, complete January 2021)

* Douglas-area elementary (new 605-seat school, complete January 2021)

* Grandview Heights Secondary (new 1,500-seat school, complete September 2021)

* Sullivan Heights Secondary (700-seat addition, complete September 2021)

* Regent Road Elementary (new 655-seat school, complete January 2022)