Schools in Surrey, B.C. expecting 300 more Syrian refugees

Surrey, B.C. (Wikipedia)

Schools in Surrey, B.C. expecting 300 more Syrian refugees
SUNNY DHILLON
VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016 8:56PM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016 8:58PM EDT

The Surrey school district says it expects to receive about 300 more Syrian refugee students in the coming months, nearly matching its total from the last school year, and some of its schools are not as full as people might think.

Surrey Schools, the largest district in British Columbia, welcomed 350 Syrian refugees last year.

Doug Strachan, a Surrey Schools spokesman, said the district expects about 300 more Syrian refugees from now through December. It expects about 1,000 more students this year in all, raising its total to more than 71,000.

He said that’s “on the high side” when it comes to annual growth, but the district has experience incorporating new students.

“There’s likely a perception that we’re full right across the board, but we’re not,” he said in an interview. “We have primarily three areas of our district that are considerably overcapacity.

“… Outside of that, there’s some schools that are modestly overcapacity, some schools that are about even and some schools that have space.”

Mr. Strachan said when it comes to refugee families, the district is working with social service agencies to identify schools that have space.

He said additions were built to three schools last year, and a new secondary school is expected to open in September, 2018.

Mr. Strachan noted the provincial government announced a plan in May to create 2,700 new student spaces in Surrey. The province is contributing $74.2-million to the plan, while Surrey Schools is paying $25.3-million.

In Vancouver, enrollment this school year is expected to remain at about 50,000 students, said Vancouver School Board chair Mike Lombardi.

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