Surrey Board of Education Chair Shawn Wilson says the district 'can’t keep piling kids in portables.'

French Immersion decision reached

Surrey trustees vote to move school program from Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary to Clayton's new Salish Secondary.

French Immersion students in Cloverdale will be moving from Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary to Salish Secondary – the new 1,500-student, state-of-the-art high school in Clayton – beginning in September 2018, following a decision by the Surrey Board of Education Thursday evening.

Despite opposition from various groups, the final decision to move the program was made following an extensive consultation process, including online public input and community meetings, said Surrey Board of Education Chair Shawn Wilson.

Members of the Parent Advisory Council at Lord Tweedsmuir also made a presentation Thursday.

Some of the concerns expressed by parents and staff regarding the move were a lack of transit options, student safety (specifically undeveloped roads and sidewalks for pedestrians), and the potential reduction of French Immersion students willing to travel the extra distance to the new school.

Now that the decision has been made to move the program, there will be a one-year transition program, with French Immersion students currently in Grade 10 finishing their Grade 11 and 12 years at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary, while French students currently in Grade 8 and 9 moving to Salish Secondary in 2018.

“The (school district) staff put a lot of work and effort into the rationale and community consultation in respect to moving programs and boundaries and we have a great deal of trust in the work our staff have done,” Wilson said.

He added the crowded conditions have to be addressed.

“It’s pretty clear… you can’t keep piling kids in portables. We’ve got to get away from these extended days if we can,” said Wilson.

Along with the French Immersion decision, new catchments boundaries were also finalized, with students from Port Kells, Clayton, Adams Road and Hillcrest elementaries moving into the Salish Secondary catchment; students from Hazelgrove, Katzie, Latimer Road and Sunrise Ridge elementaries attending Clayton Heights Seconday; and Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary seeing students from A.J. McLellan, Surrey Centre, George Greenaway, Cloverdale Traditional and Don Christian elementaries.

In addition, the Inter-A program at Kwantlen Park Secondary will be moved to Queen Elizabeth Secondary.

The Surrey school board will be faced with similar boundary decisions in the future regarding Earl Marriott Secondary once the new Grandview high school has been completed.

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