The chair of the Surrey Board of Education has once again forwarded the district's concerns to Victoria about a lack of new school space and the fact Surrey spends $4.5 million annually on portables.

Lack of Surrey school space remains ‘critical,’ trustees tell Victoria

District airs capital funding and other concerns to provincial finance committee.

While shrinking school districts get compensation for their declining enrolment, Surrey has had to cut staff to pay for portables for its ever-growing student population. And that, says the school board chair, simply isn’t fair.

Shawn Wilson pointed to what trustees feel is inequitable treatment as part of a presentation made earlier this month to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.

He said the province has provisions to cover unique costs for districts where student numbers are dwindling, but there’s nothing offered to districts like Surrey that incur extraordinary costs due to increasing enrolment.

“The playing field is uneven when we must reduce teaching staff to pay for portables while other district budgets are effectively compensated for vacant space,” Wilson said.

A lack of capital (building) money has left Surrey bustling with more than 70,000 students and not enough school space to put them in. The 300 portables housing the student overflow cost $15,000 apiece annually, equating to $4.5 million from Surrey’s operating budget. And that’s enough to pay about 50 teachers.

“While we acknowledge receiving a lion’s share of funding over the past decade, our situation remains critical,” said Wilson. “Surrey has more students in portables than half of B.C. school districts have in total enrolment.”

Surrey submitted its capital wish list to government last week, with a new high school in the Grandview Heights area once again topping the list. The district already owns land near the nearly completed swimming pool and has been waiting for government funding to proceed with construction. Even if announced today, the $47-million school would take three years to build, leaving Earl Marriott Secondary (EMS) and other overcrowded schools continuing to scramble.

EMS and three other Surrey high schools already run double shifts (with different grades attending at alternate times). Wilson said while that was once a temporary measure used in extraordinary circumstances, it’s become the norm in B.C.’s largest school district.

A “well-supported, well-articulated and transparent” capital plan is needed so adequate facilities can be provided for students, said the school board chair, who added the province also needs to stop encouraging school districts to bring in international students without allowing them to be counted in school capacity calculations.

During his presentation, Wilson also touched on shared services, a concept wherein districts can share costs for things all districts use. As a large district in a major urban region, Surrey doesn’t feel it’s always financially beneficial to be part of it and would like the board to have a choice whether to participate, rather than it be mandated.

Surrey’s final concern brought to the standing committee was the need for a “robust, fully-funded” compensation plan for exempt (non-union) staff, who have not had a wage increase for six years. Wilson said it’s making it difficult to recruit leadership and managers, who “lag behind” those they supervise.

“We have and will continue to experience ‘brain drain’ as talented professionals leave the K-12 sector.”

The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services holds provincewide consultations each fall in preparation for the next provincial budget.

 

Just Posted

Cloverdale Toastmasters celebrate 25 years of learning and laughter

Cloverdale club is a high achieving, yet laid-back Toastmasters group

McCallum’s canal pitch took Surrey councillors by surprise

City government has more important issues pressing than building a canal, councillors say

Crime Stoppers urges Lower Mainland residents to check these 9 safety items every night

Home security tips demonstrated at Cloverdale house on Wednesday

Surrey RCMP conducting drug-related search warrant

Traffic closed in both directions on 128th Street, between 64th and 66th Avenue

Queen Elizabeth students hit $100K in donations to Surrey Hospital Foundation

Secondary students have been raising funds for a decade through the Roots & Rhythms event

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Scorpion gives birth after hitching ride in B.C. woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought the animal home from a trip to Cuba

B.C. man faces deportation over father’s honour-killing conviction

Father lied to immigration, was later acquitted of charges in Jassi Sidhu’s murder

RCMP allows officers to grow beards

Members can now wear beards and goatees, as long as they’re neatly groomed

Girl, 10, poisoned by carbon monoxide at B.C. campsite could soon return home

Lucille Beaurain died and daughter Micaela Walton, 10, was rushed to B.C. Children’s Hospital on May 18

30 years later: B.C. woman uses sidewalk chalk to reclaim site of her sexual assault

Vancouver woman didn’t think her powerful story, written in chalk, would ignite such support

Men caught with illegal gun near Burnaby elementary school

They were sitting in a parked car near Cameron Elementary

Home care for B.C.’s elderly is too expensive and falls short: watchdog

Report says seniors must pay $8,800 a year for daily visits under provincial home support program

B.C. ‘struggling’ to meet needs of vulnerable youth in contracted care: auditor

Auditor general says youth in contracted residential services may not be getting support they need

Most Read