Many Tri-City schools are facing a space crunch, and getting students out of portables and into proper classrooms is a key goal of School District 43’s (SD43) most recent capital plan.
But with millions of provincial dollars needed to build new additions, it’s going to be a while before institutions in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody and Anmore get the additions they require.
So far, only three new additions have been added to SD43 schools since 2020, including a new $6.2-million, four-classroom addition at École Panorama Heights Elementary that recently opened in Coquitlam.
But a dozen more are needed, according to the school district’s latest capital plan. (See list below)
SD43 is seeking approval for $138 million for nearly 100 classrooms in 12 schools.
GETTING RID OF PORTABLES
Spokesperson Ken Hoff said the district is seeking B.C. funding for additions in order to meet capacity needs and to move portables to other schools facing a squeeze.
"Additions to school buildings increase space for students and allow for portables to be redistributed to other locations, as needed," stated Hoff in a statement to the Tri-City News.
He said additions are needed because many schools are at or close to capacity.
The district must also ensure that class sizes are up to negotiated standards following a 2016 Supreme Court ruling, reinforced in a letter of understanding in the BC Teachers' Federation 2020 contract — which ends June 30, 2022.
NEW ADDITION OPENS IN COQUITLAM SCHOOL
Last week, provincial and school officials lauded the opening of the Panorama Heights addition with room for 100 students.
In a release that was widely circulated last week, both SD43 trustees and provincial officials acknowledged the opening of the new classrooms at Panorama as a step toward meeting students’ education needs.
"Increasing school capacity in a growing neighbourhood is very valuable to the community," said board chair Kerri Palmer Isaak.
"Also, adding classroom spaces supports a strategic goal of the board of education to create and maintain innovative and sustainable facilities to meet emerging learning needs."
SD43’s parent advisory council president Marvin Klassen also welcomed the news.
"Parents are thrilled to have their children back in the main building where they are able to learn and interact with their peers throughout the day," stated Klassen.
But a dozen more schools still need additions, including Smiling Creek on fast-growing Burke Mountain in Coquitlam, which only just opened in 2018.
Here’s the list of new school additions SD43 says are required to accommodate student enrolment:
- Scott Creek Middle: 10 classrooms — $12.9 million
- Banting Middle: Four classrooms — $5.9 million
- Gleneagle Secondary: Eight classrooms — $10.7 million
- Roy Stibbs Elementary: Eight classrooms — $9,4 million
- Smiling Creek Elementary: Four classrooms — $6 million
- Dr. Charles Best Secondary: 12 classrooms — $20 million (as part of seismic upgrade)
- Riverside Secondary: Eight classrooms — $9,5 million
- Terry Fox Secondary: Eight classrooms — $9. 4 million
- Maple Creek Middle: 10 classrooms — $19.8 million (as part of seismic upgrade)
- Blakeburn Elementary: Four classrooms — $6 million
- Port Moody Secondary: 12 classrooms — $21 million
- Eagle Mountain Middle: Four classrooms — $6 million
New additions recently opened include École Westwood Elementary in Port Coquitlam in September 2020 (150 more students) and Dr. Charles Best Secondary in Coquitlam in February 2021 (150 more students).