Provincial NDP leader John Horgan says Surrey is in crisis with the chronic shortfall of school spaces.
Horgan spoke in Surrey Friday and was flanked by Surrey NDP MLAs to highlight what they consider a “crisis” situation in Surrey schools.
Speaking at Hazelgrove Elementary School in Cloverdale, Horgan said the recent Liberal announcement of 2,700 new spaces scheduled to be open in 2020 is woefully inadequate, noting the high number of portable classrooms required in the district.
Hazelgrove, as an example, was built for 500 students and it’s had up to 900 students. It opened with four portables and currently has eight.
Horgan noted Surrey sees close to 1,000 new students coming to Surrey each year. The announced new spaces, he said, will not begin to meet the demand of those new students, let alone children already in portables.
“(Portables) are a good stop gap. They should not be a permanent fixture on the education landscape,” he said. “We can’t wait any longer – Surrey is a magnet for new Canadians and new British Columbians and we need to make sure we have the tools in the classrooms to meet their needs.”
When pressed for specifics on how the NDP would solve the problem of overcrowded schools, Horgan said he would reduce the current number of students in portables from 7,000 to 3,500 in the first year through what he called prudent investments and a consolidated investment fund.
“The notion that the money’s not there is a fallacy,” he said.
On May 20, the B.C. Liberals announced $100 million in funding for six new school projects for Surrey.
The funds will go towards construction of a new secondary school in Grandview Heights, an elementary school in Clayton North, additions to Sullivan, Woodward Hill and Panorama Park elementary schools, and the purchase of land for a future school in Port Kells.
The construction will add 2,700 new student spaces in total.
Grandview Heights high school is scheduled to open in 2020 and Clayton North elementary is slated to open in 2019. Three elementary school additions are to be fast-tracked and completed by the fall of 2017.