We’re proud to be one of the fastest growing districts in Metro Vancouver … with enrollment numbers continuing to surpass previous projections. But, as a result of growing enrolment and limited space, we are facing significant capacity issues that our staff are working incredibly hard to address, as we work to keep up with the needs of New Westminster’s growing number of students and families.

Interested in reading more about what we’re doing to address capacity and growth needs? Here’s our Long Range Facilities Plan (Aug 2021) – the next update will be released in June 2023.

Updates to enrolment and placement 

While it continues to be our goal to place every student we can into their catchment school, we will not always be able to do so. In accordance with Administrative Procedure 300 (Student Admissions, Catchment Areas & Placements), enrolment and placement may be affected in the following ways:

  • Sometimes schools may be deemed full for the purpose of placing new students. This may limit placement for new students registering, or limit requests at any time for transfers both from within the district or from outside the district. (See “School Capacity Status” below.)
  • Where the number of in-catchment enrollment requests made within the regular registration period for new students (e.g. for those children entering kindergarten the following year) exceeds the ability for us to create adequate classroom space to support the number of new students who are applying to a specific school, a randomized lottery will be used to determine placement.
    When the lottery system is used the following will apply:

    • Students with sibling status will be given priority.
    • Students who are not able to be placed at their catchment school will be offered a spot at the nearest available school within the district, as space permits. Students not able to be placed at their catchment school will also be placed on a waitlist, and offered an opportunity to move if a space does become available at their catchment school.

To ensure your child and family have the best possible chance of enrolling at your catchment school, we encourage families to register new students within the regular registration windows, outlined on our Registration information page.

School capacity status

Full capacity status for 2022-23 school year

While we are outside of the regular registration window for the current school year, in-catchment applications for enrollment are being accepted for all schools within the District, including those deemed at full capacity. However, a number of our schools are currently at full capacity, either at specific grades or across the full school. Please contact our Registration Team to find out which schools have space to register your child(ren) into: registrations@sd40.bc.ca

Full capacity status for the 2023-24 school year

Capacity decisions about the 2023-24 school year will be based on enrollment demands identified within the regular registration window (Nov. 7, 2022 to Jan. 27, 2023). At the close of that window we will assess the number of requests for each school to determine 1) whether there is room to place all students at the school, 2) whether we can expand the number of classrooms to support the number of student applications, or 3) whether we have reached our maximum physical capacity at a specific site (in which case a lottery would be used to determine placement for all new students who have requested to enrol at that school, noting that students with sibling status will be given priority).

We are closely monitoring three schools where a lottery may be required for the 2023-24 school year. Those three schools are:

  • Lord Kelvin Elementary
  • Qayqayt Elementary
  • Queen Elizabeth Elementary

Again, this assessment will be made in the weeks following the close of the regular registration window (January 27, 2023).

What it means for a school to be deemed as being at full capacity

Enrolment is being monitored carefully, as we consider physical capacity of each site, and appropriate staffing available to support students. The District is managing enrollment so that we can provide the best possible chances for in-catchment students to attend now, and in the future. Giving a school “full capacity” status means that it is anticipated that there may be more students than spaces available.

At these schools, new in-catchment students may not be guaranteed placement in specific grades. In-catchment students who cannot be accommodated will be waitlisted for their catchment school and then placed at the closest possible school in the District, as space permits.

Students placed in another school by the District, due to lack of available space in their catchment school, will be given priority to transfer to their catchment school the following school year, as space may permit.

Schools deemed at capacity are closed for transfer requests.
*Transfers to closed schools may be requested only by those families who are looking to enroll a new student at the school, who already have an older sibling attending the closed school.

Notes: The above designation of full capacity status does not affect students who are currently enrolled in schools or specific programs – this status only affects the placement of students who are new to the district, or those applying for out-of-catchment transfers. Students enrolled in a New Westminster Early French Immersion program, will be guaranteed placement in a middle school French Immersion Program when they transition to Grade 6. Students enrolled at their catchment elementary schools will be placed at their catchment middle schools. 

How we’re addressing capacity challenges

Our Capital Project, Finance and Maintenance teams are working hard to support growth and updates to our schools. Within the last few years we have been able to open the new New Westminster Secondary School and Skwo:wech Elementary. Work on the 13 classroom expansion to Queen Elizabeth Elementary is ongoing, and will be updated via the Capital Projects page on the district website. 

For the 2022-23 major capital funding process, the District requested over $200 million in capital projects, mainly consisting of 2 new schools and 3 land acquisition requests. Our most significant needs are to create capacity for elementary and middle schools in the Fraser River Zone Region.

The Fraser River Zone elementary project has been formally supported by government, enabling us to work on the Concept Plan and Project Definition Report. If successful, this will lead to funding support for a new elementary school, located at the Simcoe Park site that is adjacent to Fraser River Middle School.

We are continuing to advocate for the capital funding required to expand our middle school spaces as well.

As we continue to work towards solutions that support the short and mid-term capacity needs of students and their families, the Board of Education has provided District staff with the following guiding principles, in priority order. Those include:

  1. Prioritizing space in schools for regular, in-catchment K-12 enrolment while also ensuring sufficient play and outdoor learning space; and
  2. Relocating programs of choice, community partnerships (including infant-toddler child care) and non-instructional uses of spaces to school facilities where space permits.

This work is ongoing, and we will provide the community more opportunity to engage in these discussions as we move forward.

In all cases student enrollment will be based on the priorities listed in Administrative Procedure 300.

Have questions about enrollment or registration at one of our schools? You can contact our Registration Team (working out of the Welcome Centre at NWSS) here: registrations@sd40.bc.ca or 604-517-6200.