Sunnyside Elementary is bracing for a “massive influx” of kindergarten children this fall.
But while school district officials agree the projected enrolment of 112 new kindergarten students – filling “five, maybe six” classes – at the South Surrey school is “on the high side,” they say it isn’t a new concept.
“We’ve had six, and we’ve had more in the past, in the Clayton area,” spokesman Doug Strachan said. “This is nothing new to us in the district, for sure.
“There’s been over-capacity in various schools for at least 10 years now.”
Sunnyside Elementary, located at 2828 159 St., opened in September 2013 with room for 540 students. The latest projection will bump that number to 590 – to 109 per cent capacity – increasing the number of kindergarten classes from four to as many as six, and adding four more portables to the property, Strachan said.
It’s growth principal Faizel Rawji told Peace Arch News earlier this year was unheard of.
“It’s insane,” he said of what was, at the time, a projection for seven kindergarten classes in the fall. “It’s going to be a massive influx.”
Monday, Rawji described kindergarten registration at his school as having “many moving parts,” and deferred further comment on the current status to Strachan.
Strachan said at nearby Morgan and Rosemary Heights elementaries – which have both gained classroom additions – there are currently two and three kindergarten classes, respectively, and the projected enrolment for both schools this September is “relatively flat.”
But that status is expected to change in the years ahead, as the area continues to grow, Strachan said.
“There are a number of development applications in both those areas,” he said. “And also, the boundary change that was in place for Morgan, that adds to enrolment over time.”
The school district announced boundary changes last fall as a step to help alleviate overcrowding. Locally, they resulted in a shift to have students in the northernmost section of Sunnyside’s catchment area – north of 30 Avenue/Mountain View Drive – cross busy 32 Avenue to Morgan Elementary.
To make further room at Sunnyside, the Montessori daycare that operated out of the school was given notice to cease operations after June.
Strachan reiterated that a new elementary school for South Surrey is also on the district’s top-five capital-funding wish list, and said growth was “top of the agenda” at a meeting last month between MLAs and school trustees.
“The trustees said that they left the meeting optimistic,” Strachan said.
Until relief is announced, however, Strachan said patience and working with the city will continue.
“There’s not many options available to us. Short of telling young families you can’t move here, we’re doing all we can,” Strachan said.