Ministry signs off on South Surrey school funding – finally

Sunnyside Elementary, at 15250 28 Ave. - File photo
Sunnyside Elementary, at 15250 28 Ave.
— image credit: File photo

A long-awaited new Sunnyside Elementary in South Surrey, valued at more than $12.8 million, was given the go-ahead this week by Victoria.

Surrey School District is breathing a collective sigh of relief, Surrey board of education chair Laurae McNally said.

But staff know the pressure is now on to build the new school as soon as possible, she added, confirming the soonest it can come on stream, realistically, is in September of 2013.

The new elementary, to be built at  2828 159 St., will replace the current facility at 15250 28 Ave.

According to a Ministry of Education statement, it will place the school closer to the heart of the fast-growing Grandview Heights area, providing 100 more elementary spaces, and 80 additional full-day kindergarten spaces, plus a Neighborhood Learning Centre and Montessori school components.

The rebuild of Sunnyside Elementary has been on hold for more than five years since it was originally green-lighted in the 2005-2006 school year, McNally said.

The first setback came when the Ministry of Education informed the district of the learning centre requirement. Subsequent years of waiting were followed, last year, by an unexpected order for new designs to be drawn up.

The current green light, which came Jan. 18, finally answers what has been a nagging question for both parents and school administrators, McNally said.

"And most of the nagging has come from me," she noted, adding she had been routinely asking staff if they had heard anything from Victoria on the project.

"Those parents, and that community, have been incredibly patient through all of this."

The replacement Sunnyside Elementary – like any new school development in the district –  is "long overdue," McNally said.

According to school district figures, Surrey's student population has grown by 60 per cent in the elementary grades and 40 per cent in the secondary grades in the last year alone.

"When the premier came out to Surrey and made the big announcement about additional school funding – that was four months ago," McNally said.

"In that time, the population of Surrey has grown by 1,000 residents a month – and 30 per cent of those are under the age of 19.

"Some may not be school age and others would be going to various private schools, but it gives you some idea of the way things are going."

McNally said staff are currently tidying up odds and ends of the Sunnyside project, and preparing invitations to tender to go out to business journals.

"You have to wait for six weeks for tenders to come in and then the board will award a contract, and then we can have a hole in the ground," she said.

"The site is cleared and all the preliminary work has already been done. We've done this so many times we can move fast on it – the red tape is all over the other side of the water."

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