As the start of the school year approaches, a group of concerned Surrey residents are hoping to highlight the need for new schools in the rapidly expanding city.
Overcrowding is extremely serious at Surrey schools and there has been a lack of capital funding since 2005, said Linda Stromberg, a member of an ad-hoc committee formed in March to address the issue.
“The new Adams Road school in Cloverdale opened in January of this year, and two portables have been added,” Stromberg told Peace Arch News Friday.
“Our kids are our future and our education system is not a place where we should be economizing.”
Stromberg – who serves on the ad-hoc committee with representatives from the city, business community, teachers union, CUPE, district parent advisory councils and students – noted it will take up to five years and $273 million to build the schools Surrey needs today.
And, she added, before construction of those schools is complete, the city’s school population will grow by 4,000 to 5,000 students.
While Stromberg has heard an announcement may be on the way from the government, she said the need for immediate capital funding is urgent.
Surrey School Board chair Laurae McNally agreed.
“Oh my God, yes. There is a desperate need for new schools in Surrey,” McNally said in a phone interview.
“We needed it like yesterday. We needed (new schools) four, five years ago.”
About 900 new residents move to Surrey every month and 30 per cent of those new neighbours are under the age of 19, McNally said.
“We truly do not fit the mold of any other school district,” she said.
“It’s been an uphill battle and those (committee) parents are working very hard.”
McNally said that usually people hear about enrolment declines and schools closing in other B.C. school districts, but that’s not the case in Surrey.
The committee is urging Surrey residents to write, call or email their local MLA, the provincial ministers for education and finance and the premier to express their concerns on the issue.