Bursting at the Seams

Surrey’s schools are bursting at the seams.

According the City’s first Corporate Report of 2011 the enrolment for the 2010/2011 school year is up 845 students from the previous year. The increase is the equivalent of two elementary schools.

But the only schools that have opened in 2010-2011 have been on the books prior to 2006 and as of now, no more schools in Surrey are planned.

So what does this mean? Our children will continue to be taught in portables.

In 2010, there are 206 portables at 45 different schools in Surrey. Every high school in Surrey has at least one portable, and five have more than 10. By 2015, if schools aren’t built, it is expected that there will be 266 portables, more if you add pre-kindergarten.
Given that there are no schools on the drawing board, portables at every school will be a reality.

Being taught in portables is not a desirable learning environment. But the issue is bigger than that.

Schools are funded by the Provincial Government. They have two pots of money: one for capital investment and one for operations. Schools are built through capital investment. Even though Surrey is the largest school district in BC and one of the few that is growing, the Province has not shown any plans to invest in needed infrastructure in Surrey.

When you hear that the Province funds everyone equally, they are talking about the operations funding provided per child: $6740 (plus supplemental grants for special needs). Instead of spending the $6740 per child for programming and supplies as part of their learning experience, the Surrey School District must supply portables. With 206 portables currently in use in Surrey, that means $20,600,000 has been taken away from students just to provide them with classrooms.

Does that seem fair to you?

Mayor Watts and Surrey City Council discussed this issue at the Council meeting on January 10, 2011. They don’t think it is fair and will be speaking with the Surrey Board of Education and the Minister of Education.

You can help, too.

Please contact your local MLA. The largest school district in BC needs capital investment in schools now for the future.

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