Work begins to add 10 more classrooms at jam-packed Adams Road Elementary in Surrey

CLAYTON HEIGHTS — The Surrey school district broke ground Monday on a 10-classroom addition to Adams Road Elementary.

When the school opened four years ago, it did so with the capacity for 290 students. Today, there are 13 portables on the grounds.

The addition – part of a $9.4-million expansion project for three Surrey schools – will provide 40 new kindergarten spaces and 200 for older students, bringing the school’s capacity to 530.

B.C. Education Minister and Surrey-Fleetwood MLA Peter Fassbender said the new spaces are “probably not even enough in terms of future growth” as he broke ground at the school, joined by teachers, students and other politicians.

“It’s always the challenge for all of us in government at the local level and the provincial level to know how big we should build something in terms of growth,” he continued, “because as all of you know Surrey is one of the fastest growing area and we see the growth happening all over.”

He said since 2001, the government has spent more than $335 million in Surrey in new site acquisitions and expansions.

“And we’ve got a lot more work to do,” he noted.

Principal Joanne Berka said she’s excited for the project to begin and said it’s taken “patience and perseverance” to work around overcapacity issues at the school.

She added it’s encouraging to know that “relief is on the way for some of our portables.”

The new classrooms are expected to be finished by August 2016.

Rosemary Heights and Morgan elementary schools will also be expanded as part of the $9.4-million project. The additions to all three schools are expected to bring 370 more student spaces to the district.

In 2013, the province announced its support for the $55 million Clayton North Secondary – which will have capacity for 1,500 students – alleviating pressure at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary in particular.

When the province announced the elementary additions last year, Surrey Board of Education vice-chair Laurie Larsen said the four projects are really the “tip of the iceberg, especially for what’s needed in Clayton,” noting that it’s only about half of what is truly required.

“If you drive down Fraser Highway, you just see new developments, new townhouses, there’s new signs up almost every time I drive by there. It’s phenomenal.”

According to Larsen, South Surrey elementary schools are “overflowing,” which is not a unique thing in the district.

“There’s so many areas that are just bursting at the seams. We figure it cost us $4 million for portables last year. And those are just classrooms, those aren’t science labs or gyms or anything that’s needed to go with schools,” she said.

“We can’t even ask for a school until the current school is at 110 capacity,” Larsen explained. “We have to wait until the children are actually there at the door, which is hard for Surrey because we can see those buildings going up.”

Surrey Board of Education chair Shawn Wilson said it’s an “ongoing challenge managing growth in the district.”

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com

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