The B.C. government is putting up $24 million to build a new elementary school in one of south Surrey's fastest growing communities, where overcrowded classrooms have reached a crisis level.

Grandview Heights Elementary is expected to open in time for the 2020-2021 school year.

Labour Minister Harry Bains is also announcing a $9 million investment in expanding nearby Pacific Heights Elementary so that it can accommodate an additional 300 students.

Treena Carson-Piva, the parent advisory council president at Pacific Heights Elementary School, welcomed the announcement.

"It's been a very difficult balance for our administration to try to make sense of classroom dynamics in terms in the limited space that we have," Carson-Piva said.

Zohra-Khwaja

Grade 4 student Zohra Khwaja reads a letter she wrote to Premier John Horgan about portables. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Bains says his government remains committed to eliminating portables in Surrey in four years.

Life in portables

"It does take three or four years to build a school and we're working with the Surrey School District so that we can speed up the approval process."

There are more than 300 portables in use in the Surrey School District.

Zohra Khwaja, 8, is a student at Sunnyside Elementary in south Surrey and her Grade 4 classroom is in a portable.

Zohra attended the government's news conference so that she could read a letter she wrote to Premier John Horgan about how she lost one of her favourite outdoor play areas to make room for a portable.

"Most of my friends were deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved hill," she said.

"It had to be removed in the construction of four portables. This year, two more portables were added. It makes me think, will they just keep adding portables?"