Surrey dodges $4-million school budget deficit

The amount is the same the district must spend on portable classrooms each year.

The Surrey School District has managed to cover an expected $4-million operating budget shortfall for the upcoming school year, but officials say the district wouldn’t be short the money if it didn’t have to spend millions on portables each year.

Rapid enrollment growth for more than 20 years has resulted in many schools being over-capacity, especially in the Clayton, South Newton and South Surrey neighbourhoods, leaving students learning in portable classrooms – outside regular school buildings – until extensions or new schools are funded and built.

About 300 portables are currently in use at local elementary and high schools, which the district must pay about $4 million annually to run. The province provides no special funding for portables and the dollars are diverted from Surrey’s operating budget, which pays for school programs and services.

“We are forever playing catch-up with enrollment and approximately $4 million is effectively skimmed off the top from a very tight budget every year to support our portables and this isn’t recognized in provincial funding,” said Surrey Board of Education chair Shawn Wilson.

As in prior years, the anticipated deficit for the 2016-17 school year is being made up using contingency funds that weren’t spent this year on things like snow removal, as well as with savings from some lower utility costs, unfilled positions and money the district generates through initiatives like facility rentals.

Finding the extra $4 million needed, said Wilson, means existing school programs and services likely won’t have to be cut. But he says trustees remained concerned about the ongoing trend and much-needed new school space in the growing city.

The district already has more than 70,000 students and growth has averaged 1,000 more per year.

“There has been funding assistance provided to districts in recognition of costs associated with declining enrollment, yet we remain with real and substantial costs of managing growth and overcapacity while waiting for capital funding,” said Wilson.

For the upcoming school year, the district plans to hire about 50 more teachers and 100 education assistants to meet the projected enrollment increase of approximately 800 students, including 200 Syrian refugees.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Surrey hair salon joins sustainability initiative

Hair can be used to create boom to clean up oil spills: Green Circle Salons

White Rock breaks temperature record

B.C. city was the hottest in all of Canada

South Surrey church members ‘praying for accused mother… for the whole process’

Lisa Batstone’s second-degree murder trial continues this week in B.C. Supreme Court

City will ask Fraser Health to remove pay parking at SMH, Surrey councillor says

Surrey’s new council has already made parking free on neighbouring city streets

VIDEO: Health and Technology District breaks ground on new building

City Centre 3 is the third of eight planned buildings: Lark Group

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Everett pulls ahead in Western Conference standings over Vancouver Giants

Western Hockey League’s G-Men, who lost 6-5 to Everett Saturday, now prepares to take on Victoria.

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

1 woman dead, man in hospital after ‘suspicious’ crash: police

Homicide investigators and Burnaby RCMP are investigating the fatal collision

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Most Read