Hundreds of new teachers and students in Surrey schools next year

Surrey school superintendent expects “logistical challenges” in placing new teachers

SURREY — The Surrey Board of Education has finalized its budget for the next school year – and it includes a lot more new teachers than normal.

On average, the district hires about 30 new teachers a year. But this year, that number’s going way up.

Nearly 170 new teachers will be hired, and 200 more who were on a year-to-year contract will become permanent this fall.

The district will pay for 54 new teachers, and the remainder will be funded through the new “Classroom Enhancement Fund” provided by the province to support the restoration of 2002 contractual language into the teachers’ collective agreement on class size/composition and non-enrolling teacher ratios.

The Classroom Enhancement Fund also includes the dollars to make roughly 200 year-to-year teachers permanent.

At a school board meeting on May 11, Surrey School Superintendent Dr. Jordan Tinney noted the addition of 168 new teachers is “the equivalent of seven elementary schools staffing.” He said while the district welcomes more teachers, there will likely be “logistical challenges.”

The board is also hiring 15 educational assistants, 15 support staff, two school administrators and two more professional staff positions to support the new students.

Enrolment in the growing district is projected at almost 71,800 for the coming fall, an increase of 800 over the last.

Last month, the Now-Leader broke the news that the district is required to find 168 new “enrolling classrooms” to make the classroom composition changes that were restored in the Supreme Court ruling.

Finding the space will mean the district is being forced to convert “non-educational spaces” like computer labs into classrooms.

The district has submitted its review of space to the Ministry in April, noted Tinney, with a response from the government expected in May.

“The Ministry expects that districts will look at every available space prior to requesting additional portables,” noted Tinney. “Staff are working hard to ensure that each site is reviewed carefully and all options are considered.”

Despite the added staff, the district expects to continue to have among the lowest proportion of its operating budget spent on district administration in the province this coming school year, at 2.6 per cent.

“I am pleased to report that the board’s sound and prudent fiscal management policies and practices have enabled the district to continue to put student’s needs first,” said Surrey school trustee Terry Allen.

The school board’s operating revenues are projected at $658 million for the 2017/2018 school year, an increase of $15 million over the amended annual budget. Meanwhile, operating expenditures are estimated at $674 million, an increase of $22 million over the amended budget, due primarily to increased staffing and salary costs.

amy.reid@ surreynowleader.com

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