It’s the second education announcement for Surrey in recent weeks as the school district struggles with a rising student population and not enough schools.
$3,128,483 to spend on whatever they want, as announced by the province today.
Trustee Terry Allen says there is no doubt this is money the province took from the district first, but it will still help.
“We now have what we wouldn’t have had without this announcement. No matter what people say that this is our own money coming back – we had already budgeted that out of the budget, now it is back. So now we can sit down with our executive staff …and actually put into place what needs to be put into place.”
The Surrey School District is about $4 million in the hole and Allen says this money can be used to buff up programs or tackle some other enhancements.
“My fight is to remove portables from the Surrey school system and I have now come to the realization I probably will never see that.”
He says despite the provincial government opening the purse strings to create 2700 student spaces, it is just not anywhere near enough.
“If they came again tomorrow, which they are not going to, and said another $100 million, it is still not going to be enough. What do you say to a parent who chooses Surrey when they are across the road from this school in that townhouse complex and I have to tell them they can’t come to the neighbourhood school. That is the reality with what the board of education is facing.”
Allen says with a thousand new students in Surrey every year, by the time a new school is built the system will still be bursting at the seams, and the system is broken with the district unable to even apply for a new school until students are physically in the district.
Meanwhile, Surrey-Tynehead MLA Amrik Virk bristles at the suggestion under-funding and over-crowding is driving some parents to put their kids in private school.
“There are parents who for personal, it is religious reasons or personal convictions, that do choose to go to private school as well. I have worked with this school board for the last 16 years and it is a robust school board it provides excellent education. This is one of the best education systems and that is what I tell those parents.”
Parents groups claim it would take about$ 500-million to not only get the Surrey school district where it needs to be, but also to deal with future growth.