Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions

The need for Catholic secondary education that serves Catholic families in the South Surrey area has long been recognized.  At Star of the Sea Elementary School currently, for example, there are 40 grade 7 graduates who do not go on to study in a Catholic high school for lack of a school in their area.  Additionally, Catholic high schools such as Notre Dame and Holy Cross have too few places for the number of Catholic students applying.  South Surrey also reflects a wider demographic trend, namely that the area is growing significantly and with it the Catholic population.

The approach taken for St. John Paul II Academy is a departure from how schools have been built and financed in the past.  It is not a replacement to this approach but rather recognizes the significant challenges the Archdiocese faces in providing Catholic education.  It recognizes the reality we face collectively as a system and the need to look at different solutions to address both the provision of Catholic education in the Archdiocese as well as how we address our capital needs. It recognizes that the approach taken to building schools in the past, which has created the proud legacy of schools we have today, must evolve to incorporate other approaches to meet today’s need.  This is particularly the case knowing the capital challenge the Archdiocese faces in undertaking the significant seismic work to upgrade or rebuild our existing schools.

While there are some similarities with the 3 Congregational Schools in the Archdiocese, this initiative differs in some important respects.  For example, the history of the 3 Congregational Schools reflects that they were started by communities of religious who established the school to provide education to local Catholic children in the Archdiocese.  They came at the invitation of the then Archbishop and, over the years since their establishment, have developed their own governance that reflects both their beginnings and how this has evolved into the schools and entities that support them today.    

As it is the Archbishop who permits Catholic schools to operate, with St. John Paul II Academy we recognize that we are embarking on a different model and structure, the detail of which we are working through now.  It will be operated by CISVA, which at a practical level means that all CISVA policies will apply.  Any policies unique to the school will require adoption by the CISVA Board.

School Details

Frequently Asked Questions

The school will open its doors to welcome its inaugural grade 8 class of students in September 2018. Current plans are for the school to be housed temporarily at Star of the Sea Community Centre located on Pacific Ave. while the new school is being built.  The tentative date for opening the new campus will be the 2020-21 academic year.  It will operate grades 8 to 12 and will add a grade level with each new intake of grade 8 students.

The proposed location of the new school is at 182th Street and 24th Avenue (18230 24th Avenue) where the Archdiocese has set aside a 9-10 acre parcel of land in South Surrey.

The planning assumption is to house students at the Star of the Sea Community in 2018-19 and for the 2019-20 school year.  The expectation is that students will be located on the new campus during the 2020-21 school year.

Yes.  The land is adequate to house a full high school, gymnasium, outdoor playing field, parking and other amenities.

Yes.  The school will accept young men and women when it opens its doors in September 2018.

CISVA sets out a range for tuition fees to charge at its schools.  The fee structure at St. John Paul II Academy will be slightly higher than the current schedule of tuition charged at other regional high schools.  This reflects in part the different funding model and the significant costs associated with building a new school. The first year of operation will set the annual tuition fee at $6,500 for the first Catholic child.  When compared with tuition charged at other high schools it is approximately 30-35% above that charged currently again owing to the capital costs for the building.  A portion of the tuition will go toward setting up the interim campus and, when the permanent campus is built, to pay down the debt incurred for its construction.

In the spirit of St. John Paul II who dedicated a considerable portion of his ministry to the service of youth, St. John Paul II Academy strives to provide financial assistance to families who may be unable to pay full tuition. Families are able to apply for a bursary once their child has been accepted into St. John Paul II Academy. All applications are held in strict confidence.

An independent financial service will be utilized initially to provide an arm’s length and objective assessment of a family’s financial position to help determine the level of bursary required. This analysis is provided to the school in confidence and all final decisions determining the level of assistance will be made by St. John Paul II Academy.

For more information please contact the Principal, on a confidential basis at: 604-683-9331 ext. 51354 or

St. John Paul II Academy will be a non-regional secondary school that will draw students largely from the South Surrey area though families are welcome to apply from other parts of the lower mainland.  It will actively target those children who attend Catholic elementary schools currently but don’t go on to a Catholic high school.  

As far as possible St. John Paul II Academy will make use of the facilities at Star of the Sea Community Centre gymnasium for both curricular and extra-curricular activities. In cases where additional facilities are needed arrangements will be made to make use of nearby public facilities (pool, playing fields, track). Busing may be provided in cases where travel to and from these facilities is needed.

The extent and scope of extracurricular programs at St. John Paul II Academy will be calibrated based on enrolment and the ability of the school’s staff and parent volunteers to organize and run them.  Given the unique start up nature of this school it will be critical to have parents assisting in organizing such programs.  As the school grows so too will the scope and extent of these programs.

The practice in opening a new school has generally been for the school to begin with the first grade level and then add an additional grade each year until the full complement of grades are in place.  This recognizes that in the majority of cases children remain at the school they start with few students transferring in from other schools.  With St. John Paul II Academy we will look to start with our first intake of grade 8 students and each year add a grade as this inaugural class works its way through to grade 12.  It recognizes as well that the full complement of students will take 5 years to complete and in doing so ensures that resources are focused on each grade level as they are built out.

Every effort will be made to recruit the best and brightest staff for our school.  Given the unique start-up nature of St. John Paul II Academy it offers to those teaching staff hired a rare opportunity to make their mark on the future direction and character of the school itself.  A listing of teachers and their biographies can be found here

As with all of our CISVA schools priority will be given to Catholic children.

St. John Paul II Academy will be run as a CISVA school, will follow the Ministry of Education’s BC Curriculum as well as CISVA’s religious education curricula.  In addition to the core curriculum and religious education curricula additional electives will be introduced at grades 8&9 levels that will respond to the fine arts/ applied skills requirements.  The precise nature of the electives is yet to be determined and will hinge on both student interest and teachers’ competencies.

Yes.  There will be start up costs associated with the temporary location as well as costs that will be incurred to build the permanent campus.  The financials recognize that such costs will be incurred in tandem and the tuition fee structure takes this into consideration.


Frequently Asked Questions

The role in its first year will very much be as “Anticipatory Principal” recognizing that significant work will be required to get the school established.  This includes efforts to secure Ministry of Education approval to operate, hiring teachers and staff, student recruitment and establishing procedures for registration, school administration and student governance, to name but a few.

Funding for this position will be provided by the Archdiocese using funds from the Education 2000 fund set up by Archbishop Adam Exner to promote Catholic education in the Archdiocese.

Financing & Enrolment Deposit

Frequently Asked Questions

Land for the school site will be provided by the Archdiocese.  A portion of tuition fees will go toward the financing costs associated with the school’s construction.  The ability to service this debt will be driven by enrolment where, as student numbers grow so too does the school’s capacity to carry this debt.

Our projections support financing this school through tuition fees, the enrolment deposits levied and the government block grant.  It is similar to how other independent schools in the South Surrey area have been built. which are without the benefit of having the land in place already.  We have looked closely at the financials for Vancouver College, St. Thomas More Collegiate and Little Flower Academy in part owing to their tuition fee structure being closer to what is proposed for St. John Paul II Academy and also because of their experience with having a foundation in place to assist with capital works and development.   

The Enrolment Deposit program asks the families of students accepted into St. John Paul II Academy to contribute $25,000 to the school that will be returned to the family when their child graduates or leaves the school.  By introducing this program these funds can be used to help secure bank financing for the school’s construction.  While these funds are held by the school an interest payment to the family will be made on an annual basis for the duration that these funds are held.

Yes.  Enrolment deposits given to the school will be held until the last child registered at the school graduates.  For example, if your family has two children separated by two years and both attend St. John Paul II Academy the Enrolment Deposit would be held from when the first child enters the school until the second child graduates.

Yes.  Grandparents are most welcome to make an Enrolment Deposit on behalf of their grandchild.  These funds would be held by the school until the last grandchild graduates.

Funds received will be held in trust by CISVA for the express purpose of St. John Paul II Academy and will be transferred to the foundation once it is established and charitable status confirmed.

Yes.  We recognize that families for whatever reason may move away from the school to another city or another part of Vancouver.  In such circumstances the Enrolment Deposit would be returned to the family.

Structure and Governance

Frequently Asked Questions

The school will be operated by Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese (CISVA).  There will be a foundation created that will be responsible for the capital needs of the school that will look to focus on fundraising and development.  These details are being looked at now and legal counsel engaged to establish this legal entity.  CISVA policies are available and can be accessed online at

The interim composition of the St. John Paul II Academy Education Committee is designed to be reflective of existing CISVA Policy while being responsive to the non-regional St. John Paul II Academy model and to the establishment of a new CISVA school. The Education Committee will be composed of 7 members. Five will be appointed initially by the CISVA Board of Directors and two will appointed by the school’s Archbishop’s Representative. The Principal, along with the Archbishop’s Representative, will facilitate a nominating committee and recommend prospective Education Committee members to the CISVA Board of Directors. Staggered terms will be put in place that will serve to facilitate continuity of leadership in subsequent years.

This initiative provides for a new approach to funding the building of the school that is a marked departure from how the Archdiocese has done so in the past.  The model for a CISVA regional high school was in part created recognizing that the capital responsibilities for the regional school rest with the catchment of parishes within which the school is located.  In practical terms this has meant that major capital expenses to maintain the school building, or undertake the school’s redevelopment, are the responsibility of parishes that fall within the school’s catchment.  In the case of St. John Paul II Academy the model is different in that the responsibility for capital falls not to the parishes but to the school.  This will necessitate that a different structure be created to manage the capital side of its operation.  The legal entity that will be responsible for this will be a foundation.

This initiative is a very much a hybrid in that it is a departure from the regional model that has been followed in the Archdiocese to date.   It is not regional in the sense that the responsibility for capital is apportioned among a catchment of parishes.   

The use of the term ‘academy’ implies nothing more than that it is a school.

St. John Paul II Academy is looking to target the substantial number of Catholic students who complete elementary school in one of our schools but do not go on to a Catholic high school.   This is particularly the case with students attending Star of the Sea Elementary currently.  Further, South Surrey is a growing part of the lower mainland and we expect that the Catholic community in this area will continue to grow.

The interim location of St. John Paul II Academy will be at Star of the Sea Community Centre, located a short distance from Star of the Sea Elementary School. It will have no impact on the elementary school.

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