LETTER: Surrey school trustee speaks out about lack of school funding

LETTER: Surrey school trustee speaks out about lack of school funding

The Editor, Minister Fassbender and Premier Clark: I am writing this letter to you as a trustee in Surrey and not at the direction of the Surrey school board.

I cannot be silent any longer. I recently have sent two emails detailing my concerns about a mediator, prior to one trying to be appointed, and my personal concern as a trustee over class size and composition.

It is a great concern that as a trustee, I cannot do the job I was elected to do.

We would not be in this tug of war between the BCTF and the province if schools were adequately funded to start with. This affects the number of CUPE staff, SEAs, childcare workers, specialists, helping teachers, aboriginal workers, counsellors, etc. that we, as a board, need to hire.

These are vital workers who assist teachers in the classroom and allow them to do the job they have been professionally trained to do. But with cutbacks, important positions have been cut.

Because Surrey is one of the very few districts with drastically increasing enrollment, the situation is even compounded. You are aware of the overcrowding and the cost of portables that we have had to take from our budget that directly takes funding out of the classroom.

With little funding for our schools for many years, Surrey has had to rely on portables – it has been a tremendous cost – and we have met with you and the MLAs about all of the problems that go along with this so I won’t go over all of those concerns.

I ask you, as a parent of the community and as a trustee, to not only earnestly try to meet and negotiate with the BCTF (and I am asking the same from the BCTF), but to consider the effects that years of underfunding of the education system has caused and to remedy this.

As suggested in a previous email, visiting a classroom for a full day would give you a first hand look at how classroom size and composition affects the classroom and the job teachers and staff deal with every day. Actually sitting in a classroom for a full day would give you a very accurate picture of what teachers, staff, CUPE, administration and students have to deal with.

The board has done the very best we can to alleviate some pressures but more funding is needed to give Surrey students schools and needed services they deserve.

I am very passionate about the underfunding, portable costs and how the dispute has affected staff, parents, teachers, CUPE – but more importantly, the students.

Laurie Larsen, vice-chairperson Surrey Board of Education

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