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$22.5M pre-fab expansion fast-tracked at Burnaby's Kitchener Elementary

A 15-classroom expansion at Kitchener Elementary School could be ready as early as September 2024, according to BC Education Minister Rachna Singh.

Burnaby's Kitchener Elementary School could get some desperately needed space as early as next school year thanks to a $22.5-million pre-fabricated addition announced this week.

B.C. Education Minister Rachna Singh was at the school Monday to unveil the project, which will add 15 more classrooms for 375 more student spaces at Kitchener.

"This is a wonderful place to live and raise a family," she said of Burnaby, "and that's why so many families are choosing to move here."

Burnaby school officials have long known more school spaces are needed in the fast-growing Brentwood area.

School board chair Bill Brassington said Kitchener Elementary was already at 98 per cent capacity in 2022 and is projected to be at 207 per cent capacity by 2031.

To put that in perspective, he said the school's population is projected to more than double by the time this year's kindergartners are in Grade 7.

"The building addition being announced today is absolutely needed and is most welcome, exciting and an important investment," Brassington said.

Kitchener Elementary parent advisory council (PAC) chair Tracy Mayede-Lok also welcomed the announcement.

Since she first became a parent at the school in 2013, she said the school has added a classroom's worth of kids every school year, filling the school to capacity and sparking the need for portables.

"The music room is squishy; it's tight, but with this announcement and having a new addition next year, it's going to resolve that problem," she told the NOW.

Adding more portables to cope with the growing enrolment would have meant taking money out of the school district's operating budget, according to secretary-treasurer Ishver Khunguray, but the pre-fabricated addition is being fully funded by the province.

The addition will also take half the time of a regular school build, Singh said.

Districts usually have to wait till March to get approval for capital projects, but Khunguray said the Kitchener project was fast-tracked, with the ministry giving it the green light in September.

Burnaby is part of a first wave of pre-fab projects the province approved this fall, he said.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor