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Feedback sought on possible changes to address Surrey schools over-crowding

Night classes, catchment changes and online classes among changes being considered
Students, staff and parents/guardians have the opportunity to share feedback on Surrey school district’s strategy ideas for dealing with over-crowding in the region. (File photo)

The Surrey school district may drastically change the learning experiences of students, as it considers strategies that would include students attending school at night or during summer months, among other moves to help deal with a shortage of classroom space in the region.

Numerous possible changes are being considered, but the district is asking for feedback from parents and guardians, students and staff, all of whom have been sent a survey link by email.

This survey is coming on the heels of the district seeing a new normal with rising enrolment. While previous years have had a steady increase of about 800 students each year, the last two years have seen more than 2,400 additional students.

RELATED: Surrey school district’s 2023-24 enrolment exceeds projections — again

“This rate of increase is not sustainable as the current number of schools in the district cannot accommodate the rapidly growing student body,” reads a release from Surrey Schools.

To handle this issue, the district has come up with a list of possible strategies on which survey-takers can offer feedback. After the survey deadline, there will also be in-person consultations held with parents, guardians and students, the results of which will be presented to the school board.

Some of the changes the school district may see include students from one catchment being bused to other schools that have more space, hybrid or fully online courses for high school students so that some class work can be completed remotely, and changing to a three-semester year instead of two.

The school year would be split so that some students would attend from September to May, others from December to August and the remaining from May to December. While the semesters would be shorter, the school days would be longer.

Other changes include students attending school during one of two time slots – either 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. The district is also looking at building schools on property it owns where there are not many students living, and busing students from other communities to those locations for school, or having schools situated inside offices, residential or community buildings.

The district is also considering adding more prefabricated modular classroom additions to school sites that need more space, for which some trustees showed less enthusiasm.

RELATED: Trustee calls new Surrey classrooms from province ‘fancy portables’

“While some of these strategies may be new to the district, they also present an opportunity to integrate innovative learning environments that may more effectively prepare our students for their future careers and align with the evolving workplace landscape,” Supt. Mark Pearmain wrote in an email to school community members regarding the survey.

“While our preference is to construct new schools and additions in densely populated areas, we also recognize the importance of exploring alternative strategies to manage rapid enrolment growth.”

The survey, which opened today (Nov. 20) and is running until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 29, is available in a variety of languages, including English, Arabic, Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish and Tagalog.

Sobia Moman

About the Author: Sobia Moman

Sobia Moman is a news and features reporter with the Peace Arch News.
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