Thousands of K-12 students in Surrey will again be learning in portables for the 2019-2020 school season and the foreseeable future. 28 new portables will be brought in for the beginning of the school year, bringing the total to 361 portables. The historical anticipated enrolment in September is typically higher than estimated so the number of portables listed may not even be enough.
The Surrey School District diverts $10.7 million a year away from classroom funds to operate its 360+ portables. This means less resources for the expected 73,000 students in 121 schools, including those students in schools with no portables, fewer teachers, less support for special needs students, and fewer course offerings in the whole district. Music rooms, gyms, libraries and computer labs have all been converted to classrooms in some schools in Surrey. All Surrey students are affected and deserve equal access, opportunity, and fair treatment compared to other districts’ students when they go back to school in September.
“Student growth in Surrey is expected to grow by 1,000 new students per year, and simply put, we need collaboration between the Province, the District and the City of Surrey,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade and member of the unique grassroots Surrey Schools Coalition. “We can’t just stop development. How much longer can this situation continue?”
The Surrey Schools Coalition wants a special ‘growth fund’ to be established by the BC Government to pay for portables, rather than out of school district operational budgets.
Another significant concern by the Surrey Schools Coalition is related to “closed catchment” schools. People who have moved to an area and thought their kids can go there will be disappointed to learn they have to go somewhere else because the school close to them is so full that they cannot take any more students.
The Surrey Schools Coalition has presented to various government representatives and tried to outline the needs that the unique high growth area of Surrey needs – One elementary school opening a year and a new high school every two years. Currently the Province will not be able to meet this.
“Since we started advocating three years ago, there has been some positive momentum forward, but more needs to be done and quicker.”
Surrey has the largest school district in BC. Classrooms have been growing as a result of Surrey’s rapidly growing population and demographics of young families.
“We need parents to contact their local MLA and tell them we need more funding now and construction of new schools starting faster. This story repeats itself every school year. We want and we need a different story to tell one of these years.”
The Surrey Schools Coalition also looks forward to a decision on BC’s funding formula with the promised comprehensive consultative process – a review that hasn’t been done since 1988.
Education, both quality curriculum and quality surroundings, are needed for our students to be leaders, locally and globally, through career and entrepreneur pathways.
Surrey Schools Coalition Partners:
Advocacy for Capital and Education (A.C.E.) Group.
Surrey Board of Trade
Homebuilders Association Vancouver
Urban Development Institute
The Surrey Schools Coalition’s premise is that the construction of new schools in high growth areas benefit students in Surrey, contributes to healthy communities, and enables economic growth through development.