Students head into a portable classroom in Chilliwack. (Progress file)

Lofty plans for Chilliwack school district revealed

Chilliwack school district draws up plan to add 2,900 student seats in five years

The Chilliwack school district’s newest five-year-plan for capital projects seems to seek a large-scale solution for chronic overcrowding in local schools.

Overall, nine of the listed projects would add a total of 2,900 student spaces across elementary, middle and secondary schools. The plan also includes line items for three new schools, including two that have not been listed before — an East Chilliwack elementary and a middle school for Promontory.

The information is from the agenda for the school board’s May 28 board meeting.

Chilliwack’s school system has been overburdened for several years, following a rapid growth of the community as people relocated here. Most of the growth seen in the school system at that time of growth was seen from families leaving the Vancouver area, and those coming to the Fraser Valley from Alberta.

The plan lists the district’s projects in order of priority, to be reviewed by the Ministry of Education. The list gives the MoE an idea of the needs identified by the district, and is somewhat of a wishlist for communities.

A project listed on a five-year capital plan does not mean it will become a reality. However, it does show the district’s plans for growth, and what neighbourhoods are being addressed. The district has been spending millions on portable purchases over the past few school years to deal with the student growth, and has the largest ratio of students in portables in the province.

The plan that staff will present to the board at the next meeting (May 28) covers a huge swath of the city, mostly in the form of additions to current schools.

In order, the plans being put forward to the board for approval are as follows.

1. Northside Middle/Secondary Renovations & Gym Expansion

2. G.W. Graham Secondary Addition (400 seats)

3. Vedder Elementary Addition (250 seats)

4. Cheam Elementary Addition (300)

5. Sardis Secondary Addition (400 seats) plus a gymnasium

6. Land Purchase for New East Side Elementary (earmarked at $ 7,500,000 for the 2020/21 school year)

7. New East Side Chilliwack Elementary (500 seats)

8. Vedder Middle School Addition (300 seats)

9. Sardis Elementary Addition (250 seats)

10. Watson Elementary Addition (250 seats)

11. Cultus Lake Elementary Addition (250 seats)

12. Land Purchase for New South Side Elementary School (earmarked at $ 10,000,000 for the 20121/22 school year)

13. Land Purchase for New Promontory Middle School (earmarked at $15,000,000 for the 2024/2025 school year)

Also included in the plan, which needs to be into the MoE by June 30, are upgrades to building envelopes, mechanical, air filtering, heating and roofing upgrades, playground equipment and bus replacement.

The total of all projects included in the list, over five years, is $37,660,883.

NOTE: Due to a clerical error, some of the financial information was missing from the original board package. Watch for an update on the financials of the Five Year Capital Plan following the March 28 board meeting.


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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