The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board is about to ask the Education Ministry for funding for new schools, and thinks having the growth of six more elementary classes than forecast should make a stronger case.
Board chair Mike Murray said the historic growth in the Albion area, combined with approximately 200 more elementary students from families moving to Maple Ridge, should help the board get provincial funding for new schools.
“We would hope we are able to get a good look by the ministry,” said Murray.
The board will ask the Education Ministry for funding to build a new elementary school in Albion, at a school site on 104th, and acquire a second site in the Albion area to accommodate another 550 students.
It will also ask the ministry to support a new school site in Silver Valley.
Each school would have a capacity of 550 students.
Maple Ridge council has supported the board in plans to build new schools in Albion and Silver Valley, where new residential development in the city is taking place.
The Education Ministry needs to see the overall plan before approving new construction.
“This plan, when it’s finally adopted, with whatever changes are made, will be the basis of our final capital submission to the ministry,” said Murray.
“We need to get on with this, and move forward.”
The facilities plan was presented to the public in an open house on Wednesday night at Maple Ridge secondary.
The plan attempts to even out enrolment at district schools by redrawing boundaries, and offering programs of choice as schools with smaller populations.
With the plan, a new early French Immersion program is to be established at Maple Ridge elementary, beginning in September 2016.
In addition, the French Immersion intake for September 2016 at Pitt Meadows elementary will be limited to two kindergarten classes, to balance the English and French programs at the school.
Samuel Robertson Technical will have its catchment area shrunken, to benefit Garibaldi secondary, which is under-utilized.
The intake of Grade 8 students at SRT will be limited to 150 students per year, which will maintain the school population at 750 students.
There is still more work to do on the plan, and staff will study and make recommendations about:
• a fine arts academy at Garibaldi, and a fine arts focus at Blue Mountain elementary, with an in-depth review is to be done, with a recommendation to the board by March 2016;
• an in-depth review of the International Baccalaureate program at Garibaldi to be completed by the end of December 2015;
• new trades programs in horticulture and auto collision repair.
The board is scheduled to adopt its final facilities plan on Oct. 14.