Surrey’s board of education hopes the City of Surrey will join the fight to get provincial funding for more schools.
At the urging of Trustee Laurae McNally, Surrey school trustees are requesting an urgent meeting with mayor and council to speak about the city’s rapid growth and the immediate need for additional student space.
“I am very, very concerned,” said McNally. “We’re in desperate need of capital and something needs to be done.”
She pointed to the 1,000 new residents moving to the area each month – about 19 per cent of whom are under 18. She also noted the 500 births per month at Surrey Memorial Hospital, as well as the 800-900 per year at Peace Arch Hospital.
There are currently more than 6,000 students learning in portables because so many Surrey schools are over capacity.
“The longer we don’t get capital money, the worse it gets. It’s just not fair to our children,” McNally said, adding the portable classrooms are also extremely costly.
“Everywhere I go, I meet people who are just aghast when they find out we have to pay $4.1 million per year for these blinking portables in our district.”
While technically school district business, McNally says the city has a responsibility, too.
“If they’re going to keep approving these developments – and I’m not anti-development – they need to step up to the plate and understand what it’s doing to our schools and voice their concerns.”
The provincial government repeatedly defends its position, noting it’s spent about $300 million on capital projects, land and seismic upgrades in Surrey since 2001.
McNally says trustees appreciate what they’ve received but it’s simply not keeping up with the growth.
“Instead of looking back, let’s deal with the present. We can’t keep up. We need some help here,” she says.