SURREY â€” Trustees and parents of the provinceâ€™s largest school district are calling on the provincial government to step up their funding commitments to education.
As part of the provinceâ€™s annual consultation period through its Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, residents and organizations are able to send the government feedback prior to the writing of the 2015-16 budget.
In a release, the Surrey Board of Education says the underfunding of education is leading to direct cuts to services that support childrenâ€™s learning and that â€œthe governmentâ€™s commitment to fiscal discipline cannot come at the expense of childrenâ€™s futures.â€
Board chair Shawn Wilson said there are currently 6,000 students in 280 portables and that number has increased 41 per cent from 2003 to 2014, costing an estimated $4.2 million per year. Wilson noted that if adequate funding were in place, the district could have hired 50 more teachers with the same funds.
â€œThese teaching positions could be of extraordinary help in dealing with class size and composition,â€ he said.
Other risings expenses left to the district include energy costs and employee benefits, both of which the board say are not covered in the provinceâ€™s funding increases.
â€œIf boards of education are to be successful in their goals, they must be able to rely on adequate and sustainable funding,â€ Wilson said. â€œWe know that an investment now will ensure a bright future for our children.â€
Bob Holmes, on leave from the Surrey District Parent Advisory Council while he runs for trustee, also submitted a letter to the province expressing similar concern. While Surreyâ€™s rapid growth should work in the districtâ€™s favour when it comes to funding, Holmes says the slow movement of funds instead works to the detriment of the district.
â€œSince we are looking at four to five years from a funding announcement to kids being in a school, the recent news that the province has asked districts not to submit capital funding plans this year is nothing short of appalling,â€ he wrote. â€œItâ€™s not fair to our parents to put them in a position where they feel like they need to constantly raise funds to ensure their childrenâ€™s classrooms have everything they need. But most importantly, itâ€™s not fair to our children, and all the children of this province, to give them less and less support every year.â€