Surrey’s school-funding formula could change, Premier Christy Clark says

Premier acknowledged as much in Surrey after announcing the province is going to fund 2,700 new student spaces in the growing district.

Premier Christy Clark came to Surrey's Panorama Park Elementary Friday to announce 2

Premier Christy Clark came to Surrey's Panorama Park Elementary Friday to announce 2

SURREY — The current funding model for schools may not be working in Surrey, Premier Christy Clark said.

She acknowledged as much Friday in Surrey after she announced the province is going to fund 2,700 new student spaces in city’s overcrowded district.

SEE MORE: Premier commits to 2,700 new student spots in Surrey, ignores two of five priority projects

“We are looking at it,” Clark said. “We are talking to Surrey now about how we might improve the process for Surrey because the thing is, growth is very uneven and the majority of districts are seeing shrinking at the moment.”

Clark acknowledged schools in Surrey are being built “after the fact” instead of when children actually arrive at the door.

Districts can’t even apply for new schools until students are already inside the building. And it often takes three to five years from an announcement to the time the school is ready to open.

“I think we need to have a good look at the way we decide when we will be funding a new school and make sure that it accommodates school districts that are growing as quickly as this one,” she said. “We’ve begun that discussion (with Surrey) at this point.

“I don’t know how long that will take.”

Clark said building schools gets complicated due to the amount of parties involved – land owners, developers, districts, municipalities and the province. It “doesn’t make it easy,” she added.

“I say that because I don’t want to suggest that changing the way we build the funding formula and the allocation for capital would solve all the problems but I think it might go some way to improving the way Surrey receives its funding,” Clark said.

“It’s a shame when we get behind and kids are in packed schools. It’s fantastic that Surrey is growing and fantastic that the economy here is thriving but one of the upsides of growth is more kids and one of the complications we have to deal with is how we’re going to build more schools to accommodate them when they get to school.”

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com