Student enrolment in the Surrey School District is down for the first time in 30 years.

Student enrolment in the Surrey School District is down for the first time in 30 years.

Number of Surrey students drops for first time in 30 years

Officials believe decrease is a 'blip' and that enrolment will keep climbing for next couple of years.

For the first time in three decades, the number of students attending Surrey and White Rock public schools has dropped.

Figures for kindergarten to Grade 12 enrolment this fall show there are 72 fewer kids than this time last year. Surrey remains the largest school district in B.C. with 70,172 students, but had 70,244 last September.

In a city where growth has been rampant – the city estimates approximately 12,000 new citizens move to Surrey annually – the enrolment decrease is surprising for school officials, who were expecting an increase of about 195 students.

“It’s really too early to even speculate where they (the students) are,” said Laurae McNally, chair of the Surrey Board of Education.

She said significant growth continues in schools in the east of the city, such as Cloverdale and the Clayton neighbourhood, as well as in the South Surrey, in areas like Morgan Crossing and Rosemary Heights.

“The numbers just didn’t show up, apparently, in the west and the north and we don’t know why,” McNally said, adding district staff is investigating possible causes.

She noted that anomalies do happen, however, like three years ago when Surrey forecast an increase of 200 new students and 1,400 appeared.

The school board had based its 2012-2013 budget on the projected increase of 195 students, so the 267 fewer students than expected means about $5.1 million less in operational funding from the Ministry of Education.

Most of that would have covered hiring nearly 150 additional teachers, educational assistants and support staff to serve the anticipated additional students. But since they didn’t show up, those positions were not filled and the money not spent.

Despite this year’s “blip,” McNally said all indications are that school enrolment will grow by about 400-500 students for at least the next couple of years.

And she said capital funding (dollars needed to build new school space) is still needed as Surrey still uses 265 portable classrooms.

“It won’t affect our lobbying for schools because we’re still trying to play catch up from having five years of no capital. Government will not fund based on speculation. They need to see the whites of their eyes…and we have lots of those here already.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (File photo)
Surrey mayor taking it on the chin during budget public hearing

So far, he’s cut five callers off during Monday’s virtual meeting

The entrance at Fleetwood Villa in Surrey. (Photo:
Fleetwood Villa resident tests positive for COVID-19, leading to ‘outbreak’ at facility

Fraser Health says it’s ‘critically important’ for people in the region to use COVID-19 assessment tool

A Surrey protest now in week 12 against a local resident has frayed the nerves of neighbours fed-up with the group’s presence. (Submitted photo)
Surrey neighbourhood fed-up with strange protest

Surrey Mounties say they’re monitoring the situation

Bhupinder Hundal. (submitted photo)
Surrey’s Bhupinder Hundal hired as news director of B.C. broadcaster

Grad of Princess Margaret Secondary now managing Global station

Surrey-White Rock MLA-elect Trevor Halford and Surrey South MLA-elect Stephanie Cadieux have each been given a portfolio as an Opposition critic. (Contributed photos)
BC Liberals give Halford, Cadieux critic responsibilities

Surrey South and Surrey-White Rock MLAs to help keep eye on majority NDP government

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
32 family members respond to Abbotsford care home’s plea for staffing help during COVID-19 outbreak

Menno Home asks for relief workers for food service, laundry and housekeeping

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Most Read