Premier Christy Clark has announced Surrey is getting 2700 new student spaces, a new secondary school and a new elementary school.
Clark says nearly $100-million is being spent.
“There will be the rapid expansion of up to 600 seats at Sullivan, Woodward Hill, and right here at Panorama. In South Surrey, there will be a brand new Grandview Heights Secondary with space for 1500 students. That is going to relieve the pressure significantly on Earl Marriott and Semiahmoo. We are also building a new Clayton North elementary school with space for 605 students.”
Clark adds the province is also buying land for a future school as well.
She also used the announcement to tout her government’s job creation record.
“We have the lowest unemployment rate compared to the rest of the country since 1976 right here in this province. I was only 11 in 1976. How old are you now? Yeah, you’re ten. So I was your age the last time unemployment was this low.”
The increase includes a new 1500-seat Grandview Heights Secondary School to be completed by 2020, and a new 600-set Clayton North Elementary School to be complete by 2019.
The BC Liberal government has been under increased pressure from parents and politicians in Surrey, to build more schools because so many are at over-capacity and the city’s population is growing so fast.
Education spending could change, says Premier
With Surrey battling a unique problem as it deals with an exploding student population as other school districts deal with declines, the Premier says education spending might change.
Christy Clark says each district is unique and the way the province funds capital projects like new schools is getting a second look.
“The zoning. The work with the private landowner in most cases the developer, the city, the school district, and the government have to line up better. Those are some of the discussions that we are having. It is more important for Surrey than school districts that are shrinking. Or school districts that have, like Vancouver, schools that are 75-percent empty.”
Clark says new school construction can be complicated and she is not sure how long the review of the current process will take.
Linda Hepner applauds announcement
The mayor of Surrey says the announcement of almost $100-million of provincial money for new and expanded schools means progress is being made.
Linda Hepner says since the 1990s when the district had about 400 portables there has been major headway with 280 portables today.
“I think in most growing school districts you will generally see one or two portables. I think with construction that has happened over the last number of years we are on a downward trend from the early 90s. The experience would be lets get rid of them altogether and today’s announcement will go a long way to doing that.”
One parent says more has to be done
Maria Myers says the overcrowsding in schools is leading to gang activity.
Myers has two children who attend Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School.
She welcomes provincial cash to build new schools but says more needs to be done.
“I can take you on a walk through this community and show you houses where there have been murders. I can show you right here where we stand right in this parking lot I see dial-a-dope drug deals going on. Children aren’t feeling a part of their school community, which is something we strive to build as a school community. But there’s not the resources and not the space so instead they reach out to gangs and to other activities that aren’t positive. And they don’t grow and they don’t help our community and they don’t learn and it’s a shame for our students and our children and that is our families.”