Where it was once closing schools, the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District is now building one, and re-opening another.
The former elementary school at Maple Ridge secondary, which is now commonly referred to as the annex, is going to be re-opened as a standalone elementary school.
It was formerly known as Mt. Crescent elementary and was shut down in 2009, along with Riverside, as the district faced declining enrolment.
However, with the price of homes increasing throughout the Lower Mainland, families are moving to the new subdivisions being built in the Silver Valley and Albion neighbourhoods, and enrolment is back on the rise.
Earlier this year, the board forecast an increase of 1,000 students over the next three years. Shrinking class sizes creates more need for space, after the B.C. Teachers’ Federation won its court battle over its right to bargain class size and composition.
“Our strategic facilities plan identified increasing enrolment pressures at the elementary level in the central capital zone, with current elementary enrolment already exceeding operating capacity,” said Irena Pochop, senior communications manager for School District No. 42.
“The plan also identified that, in due course, we would need to convert Maple Ridge secondary annex back to an elementary school as a way of accommodating/managing this growth.”
The district listed the conversion of the Maple Ridge annex to an elementary school in its capital plan submission last school year, and is waiting for ministry funding approval for the renovation work.
The cost of the work is estimated at $4.85 million.
Because the renovations would be extensive, they would take approximately a year to complete before the facility could reopen as an elementary school in September 2020.
That school would then draw in students from kindergarten to Grade 7 from the central capital zone, taking pressure off the neighbouring elementary schools.
Central capital zone elementary schools are Alouette, Eric Langton, Glenwood, Golden Ears, Harry Hooge and Yennadon.
“We will be consulting with Maple Ridge secondary staff in advance of any of these changes, so that they are able to provide fulsome input on how to reconfigure the space and programming in the secondary school to accommodate students and make best use of the space,” said Pochop.