Surrey, BC – Encouraged by meetings and statements by Premier John Horgan and Minister of Education, Rob Fleming, Surrey Schools Coalition looks forward to its October 21, 2017 meeting with Surrey MLAs to discuss the pressing need for new schools in Surrey.
The recent Throne Speech and September budget update identified the Surrey School District as a key priority area for capital funding projects to get schools built, and committed to the previously announced budget of $217 million to create up to 5,200 spaces and a Surrey Project Office.
Just BUILD them.
Surrey Schools Coalition (SSC) is encouraged that the Premier, Minister of Finance Carole James, and Minister Fleming recognize that the Surrey School District is the largest in B.C., growing by over 1,000 students annually and has way too many portables (325!). SSC does not expect all of Surrey’s portables to vanish and that is simply unrealistic. SSC is also cognizant that capital costs and debt will be incurred by the Province. Surrey has been patiently waiting and the time to build schools is now. Any delay will result in higher costs.
Work with the Surrey Project Office to expedite construction.
Although $217M was announced in January 26, 2017, there has only been one approved project of $26M towards Clayton Village Elementary (of which the school district had to contribute $4.3 M). We urge the government to fast-track projects via the Surrey Project Office currently awaiting approval, write a cheque for $217M to the Surrey School District now, fully commit and fund $250M to $350M of capital projects for the next 3 years, waive district financial contribution for new schools. Most importantly, let the Surrey Project Office do its job in accordance with the Surrey School District’s capital plan without the bureaucratic red tape of going back to the Ministry of Education for further approval of project definition reports, site selection, design, etc.
Funding formula needs to address growth.
Surrey schools spends an estimated $4.2 million out of its 2017/18 operating budget on its 325 portables. We urge the Treasury Board, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Education to fund portables out of a special “growth fund” until schools are built. The siphoning of $4.2M from local budgets means less resources (specialist programs, teachers, library resources, computers, technology, gym equipment, musical instruments, etc.) for students.
Community Rally for Schools Funding.
Students, parents, and the community will be gathering on Saturday, October, 28, 2017 at Earl Marriott Secondary from 12 noon to 2:00pm to rally for schools funding. Invitations have been sent to MLAs, the Premier, Minister of Education, Mayor and City Council, and Board of Education Trustees. Come join us for free food, fun and entertainment. Prizes for best costumes!
Surrey Schools Coalition Partners:
Surrey District Parents Advisory Council
Surrey Board of Trade
Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association
Urban Development Institute