Portables, portables and more portables.
Surrey simply has too many – and the number has gone up to about 325 this year as growth continues to surpass the district’s capacity.
Portables in Surrey were a hot topic in the lead-up to May’s provincial election.
Along the campaign trail, then-candidate John Horgan vowed that if elected, his New Democratic Party would eliminate portables in Surrey.
The Now-Leader attempted to speak to Horgan about his plans before school begins in September, leaving several messages for his communications representative last week and early this week.
Calls went unreturned and the inquiry was bumped to the education ministry.
“Sorry, the minister is not available to talk today.”
How about just for five minutes over the phone?
Surely, either the premier or education minister can spare a few moments to update Surrey constituents on the firm commitment they made?
After all, that committment surely had a role to play in the NDP’s election victory.
As of presstime Thursday, seven days after our initial enquiry, we still hadn’t heard from the newly-elected government about this important issue in Surrey.
Not even an email.
Let’s go back in time for a minute, shall we?
While stumping in Surrey last April at Riverside Elementary school, Horgan said an NDP government will replace Surrey portables with “real classrooms” and by building new schools here, deliver “stable and proper education funding to ensure kids have the support they need to thrive,” and work with civic governments and First Nations to “build and upgrade schools in every region.”
Horgan said then-premier Christy Clark’s “failure to plan for growth has resulted in more than 10 per cent of Surrey students – 7,000 kids – learning in portables.”
He said that $15,000 comes out of the local school district’s operating budget for every Surrey portable – money that could be used on programs for students. Getting students out of portables would free up money to hire more teachers, he said.
We don’t expect the portables to disappear immediately.
We do, however, expect an update on the grand plan – especially considering all that grandiose pre-election talk.
For all the promises made, it’s the least the NDP can do.