LETTER: Education minister responds to editorial

Education Minister George Abbott.

To the editor;

RE: Editorial: Not yet within expectations? Nov. 10

I would like to respond to your editorial last Wednesday regarding Hazelgrove Elementary and student space in Surrey.

We have been working closely with our partners in School District 36 to respond to Surrey’s unprecedented growth by creating more than 3,000 new student spaces in the district since 2005. In fact, since 2001 we’ve invested more than $219 million for 51 Surrey capital and seismic projects.

Over the last 11 years, enrolment in SD 36 has grown by an estimated 8,931 students, a 15 per cent increase unmatched by any other B.C. school district. We recognize this means Surrey faces unique challenges and we have taken some immediate steps to help.

We recently provided B.C’s fastest-growing school district with a one-time capital grant of $2 million. We have also found some opportunities to provide additional space within the current initiative to provide classrooms to accommodate the full day kindergarten program. With the projects at Hazelgrove, Cambridge, Chimney Hill and Hillcrest Elementary, for example, we were able to add a total of an additional 200 elementary spaces on top of the 160 spaces needed for full-day kindergarten.

In addition to these interim measures, we are working towards a long-term solution to address Surrey’s challenges in the 2011 capital plan, to be released this spring.

George Abbott

Minister of Education

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