Surrey school district hiring 50 teachers, 100 EAs, despite $4.5M budget shortfall

Surrey's Board of Education hiring more teachers, education assistants to handle 800 more full-time students, including 200 Syrian refugees

The 2014-18 Surrey Board of Education: (back row

The 2014-18 Surrey Board of Education: (back row

SURREY — Surrey’s Board of Education anticipates a $4 million budget shortfall in the 2016-17 school year. Still, it expects to hire 50 more teachers and 100 education assistants to handle an increase of 800 full-time students in September, including roughly 200 Syrian refugees.

School board Chairman Shawn Wilson said the increase in students is equal to enrolment at two mid-sized elementary schools.

Growth over the past two decades or so has resulted in schools running over capacity and need for portable classrooms mostly in Clayton, South Surrey and South Newton, Wilson said.

“We are forever playing catch-up with enrolment and approximately $4 million dollars 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,” he said. “There has been funding assistance provided to districts in recognition of costs associated with declining enrolment, yet we remain with real and substantial costs of managing growth and overcapacity while waiting for  capital funding.”

Wilson said trustees are concerned with having to take $4 million out of the district’s operating budget “to support the use of 300 portable classrooms around the district.

“We are already well over 70,000 students and are growing by about 1,000 more every year.”

tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com