School District No. 42 projects it will need seven new schools to deal with the influx of new students expected from residential development in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows over the next 10 years.
In a report to school trustees, district staff estimate 9,352 housing units will be completed by 2021, adding 3,793 students to the local school district.
Currently, School District No. 42 has more than 15,000 students enrolled in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
The district’s 2012 capital plan calls for four new elementary schools and a secondary school in the Silver Valley area, as well as two new elementary schools in the Albion area.
“The sites would be determined once we see the kids coming in,” said secretary treasurer Flavia Coughlan.
Since 2000, the local school district has shut five schools due to declining enrolment: Thornhill elementary, Meadowland elementary, Maple Ridge primary, Mt. Crescent elementary, and Riverside elementary.
However, none of those schools were located in the expected areas of population growth.
The total cost to acquire the land needed for the seven new schools and expand the existing Albion elementary site is estimated at close to $32 million. The cost to acquire the sites will be borne by the school district, with help from developers and new homeowners.
The school district collects a school site acquisition charge on every new development built in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, ranging from $600 per unit for high density condos to $1,000 per unit for low density homes.
Funding for the schools themselves will have to come from the provincial Ministry of Education, and the seven schools have been included on district’s five-year capital plan.
That plan also includes expansion of Samuel Robertson Technical Secondary School, to increase its capacity from 600 to 1,000 students.
Currently, the east Maple Ridge high school has close to 900 students, with 13 portables to house the overflow.
Coughlan said the priority for the school district remains securing funding to build a new elementary school in south Albion, where the district owns land along 102nd Avenue.
That project is expected to coast $17.73 million.