Province announces new schools, but none in Maple Ridge

Announcement of $14.3 million for new school in Langley marks fourth time in past year school district passed over for new school funding.

Province announces new schools, but none in Maple Ridge

The provincial Ministry of Education announced more than $135 million for seismic upgrades as well as a new elementary school in Langley on Friday, but none of that money will be going to School District No. 42.

School district secretary treasurer Wayne Jefferson said there are no schools in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows in dire need of seismic upgrading.

However, the announcement of $14.3 for a new elementary school in Langley marks the fourth time in the past year the local school district has been passed over for funding for a new elementary school in the Albion neighbourhood of east Maple Ridge.

The provincial government announced more than $300 million in capital funding for schools across B.C. last November, none of which went to School District No. 42.

Since then, the province has announced close to $65 million in funding for new schools in Langley, New Westminster, and the Sunshine Coast.

In 2010, School District No. 42 passed up seven new modular classrooms offered by the provincial government to help house students with the implementation of all-day Kindergarten, instead using existing portables to save the provincial ministry about $3 million in the hopes of securing funding for a new school in the Albion area.

Presently, the three elementary schools in the area – Albion, Alexander Robinson, and Kanaka Creek – are all over capacity and are relying on portables and modular classrooms to house students.

Prior to last November’s announcement, new school funding across the province had been largely static for the past five years.

Jefferson said he is optimistic funding for the new school will be forthcoming with a provincial election scheduled for 2013.

“I can’t second guess the ministry … but we feel heard and 100 per cent supported by [Ministry of Education capital funding] staff.”

One of the problems hurting School District No. 42’s chances for new school funding has been the decades-long trend of declining enrollment district-wide.

Since 2000, the local school district has shut five schools due to falling enrollment: Thornhill elementary, Meadowland elementary, Maple Ridge primary, Mt. Crescent elementary, and Riverside elementary.

“[The Ministry of Education] is aware of our situation,” he said. “Our project is recommended and highly rated.”