The new Salish Secondary school is now open in Clayton. (Samantha Anderson)

Column

BUCHOLTZ: Building a case for quicker school projects in Surrey

But remember, quality of education has much more to do with the teacher than the particular room

The school year started this week and Surrey schools were expected to have more than 71,000 students coming through the doors.

One new high school, Salish Secondary, opened, as did a major addition to Woodward Hill Elementary. However, the number of portable classrooms in Surrey School District has risen to 347.

There has been a lot of discussion about portables as the new school year approached, with Education Minister Rob Fleming repeating the election vow by Premier John Horgan to work to get rid of portables in Surrey by the time of the next scheduled provincial election, in 2021.

Fleming finessed that pledge in a recent interview. He told Black Press Media that “we’re looking to turn the corner and, by 2021, which was our four-year commitment, and start eliminating portables aggressively in Surrey.”

The reality is – as his comments suggest – it will be all but impossible to completely eliminate portable classrooms.

There are still many areas of Surrey to be developed – West Clayton, East Grandview Heights, Port Kells, Anniedale and smaller areas in South Surrey, Newton and Tynehead. There will also be considerable redevelopment of land to much higher densities, as it is all but impossible for most younger families to even think of owning a detached home.

Board of education vice-chair Terry Allen said trustees would like to be able to start the building process on population projections, rather than wait for the students to actually be in place. That approach to funding new schools is a longstanding provincial government policy. The policy has been adhered to, quite strictly, by successive Social Credit, NDP and BC Liberal governments.

As Allen points out, Surrey will be one of the fastest-growing areas in the Lower Mainland for the foreseeable future. The current policy actually costs taxpayers more, as land for new schools is often purchased at inflated prices, due to the area already being developed for urban uses.

Fleming seems to be at least thinking about a different approach. Of course, any plans along that line would have to pass muster with the treasury board, Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James. The current NDP government seems to be quite anxious to run surpluses, and avoid the political charge of being spendthrifts.

It is important to remember, as well, that portables have little to do with quality of education. Most are newer, well-equipped buildings and have most, if not all, the amenities of other classrooms.

Quality of education has much more to do with the teacher than the particular room.

Surrey School District does have a good case for getting building funds earlier. There will be a need for many more schools in the years to come. There are already sites that have been purchased for new schools, but there is no actual building activity on some. Hopefully, there will soon be many construction workers on those sites.

Frank Bucholtz writes weekly for the Now-Leader, as well as at frankbucholtz.blogspot.ca – email frank.bucholtz@gmail.com



edit@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Surrey’s new top cop doesn’t believe residents have lost faith in the RCMP

Brian Edwards will take over the reins of Canada’s largest RCMP detachment on Jan. 6

Surrey Schools to sell property meant for school due to close proximity to pretrial

Sale funds would go toward purchasing new potential school site

Surrey mother voices concerns about Highway 15 intersection after crash

Kim Squirell’s daughter and her friend injured in collision at 176 Street and 40 Avenue

Eight Surrey groups to share $375K in grant money

The not-for-profit groups focus on public safety and the environment

SURREY HISTORY: The 1914 Sedro-Woolley bank robbery and its connection to Cloverdale

Columnist Sue Bryant looks back at the Pacific Northwest’s biggest bank heist of 1914 and its entanglement with the Surrey area

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

‘British Columbians are paying too much’: Eby directs ICBC to delay rate application

Attorney General David Eby calls for delay in order to see how two reforms play out

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

National cold case hunters take on search for missing man last seen in B.C.

Kristofer Couture’s car was found at Chilliwack trailhead in January but there’s been no sign since

What’s happening: week of Dec. 12

Events and community listings for North Delta

Owner surrenders dogs chained up outside among scrap metal, garbage to BC SPCA

Shepherd-breed dogs were living in ‘deplorable conditions.’

Most Read