WITH Surrey’s portable count expected to grow yet again this fall, BC Liberal MLAs are once again calling on the BC NDP to prioritize funding for local schools. The Surrey School Board has asked the NDP government for $10.5 million to help pay for up to 30 new portables, which will bring the number of temporary classrooms in the city to 355.
Surrey MLAs raised the issue in Question Period on Thursday, but were only met with deflection from the Education Minister, say the BC Liberals.
“Despite all the NDP’s promises, we’ve only seen the Surrey portable count climb under their watch,” says Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux. “The Premier has acknowledged his government is behind on its commitments. But the government isn’t just behind – it’s moving in the complete opposite direction.”
During the 2017 election, the NDP pledged to accelerate school construction in Surrey – eliminating portables within four years, and halving that number within two. But local MLAs warn NDP investment hasn’t kept pace. While the district expects 11 school construction projects to be ongoing by the end of the year, four of these projects were committed to by the former BC Liberal government.
“The NDP is delivering too little, too late,” says Surrey-White Rock MLA Tracy Redies. “Schools are already full in many catchments, and our community continues to grow. The investments the NDP has made won’t even keep up with this growth, never mind cut down on the number of students studying in portables.”
Opposition Education Critic Dan Davies says this news unfortunately comes as no surprise given the NDP’s latest budget.
“While the NDP claims eliminating Surrey portables is a top priority, this issue didn’t even come up once in this year’s budget,” says Davies. “Surrey needs more student spaces, plain and simple. But this budget doesn’t deliver.”
“The Surrey school district is under tremendous pressure as our student population continues to increase,” says Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Marvin Hunt. “The board is in the difficult position of deciding whether to use its resources to hire new teachers and support staff or pay for more portables. The only solution to this problem is more classrooms – and not temporary ones.”