Local government and school board trustees in Surrey are frustrated with overcrowding in Surrey schools, and they’re pointing the finger directly at the B.C. Liberals.
In a Surrey school board meeting, trustees passed a unanimous motion calling for a halt to new development until provincial education funding catches up with growth. And in the following days, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner echoed the frustrations of the trustees, calling out Christy Clark’s government for waiting until existing schools are overcrowded to approve funding for new ones.
These pleas from local leaders show the desperation of the school board and local government in Surrey. Education funding is failing to keep pace with the city’s growth, and they know that kids and families are paying the price.
Surrey is one of the fastest-growing school districts in the province, adding thousands of students every year. This year, Surrey added 900 students over and above the expected increase in enrolment, and anticipates 500 more as refugee families settle in the city. Yet years of Christy Clark’s mismanagement have led to overcrowded schools across the city, and a network of 275 portable classrooms that’s bigger than 35 of this province’s school districts.
Time and again, families in Surrey have raised this issue with Christy Clark and her government. They warned this government that Surrey students were going to school on staggered schedules, that brothers and sisters were going to schools across town from each other, and that portable classrooms were taking over school grounds.
But Christy Clark and her government didn’t listen. And today, they’re still not listening.
Instead, they continue to point to projects that don’t come close to keeping pace with growth. Katzie Elementary, built less than two years ago, is already over capacity, while construction on Clayton North Secondary School started almost a year late – completion is now expected at the end of 2018, by which time Surrey will have thousands more students.
This spring, Surrey will see another class of young people graduate from its schools. And once again, these graduates will have spent their entire educational careers in a chaotic, underfunded education system – an education system that the B.C. Liberals have taken from the second best funded in the country to the second worst.
Families in Surrey are tired of promises without action. The premier needs to stand up today and make a real commitment to support Surrey’s growing schools.