Protocol dictating when to build schools is what needs to be fixed

Stopping development isn’t what has caused the dilemma of overcrowding in our school district.

I appreciate the motion Trustee Laurae McNally put forward calling for a stall on development in fast-growing areas of Surrey, which was supported by all trustees. However, stopping development isn’t what has caused the dilemma of overcrowding in our school district.

Development permits take almost three years to go through the process of being approved, almost a year less than it takes once approval is given to build a school and actually have it ready to open.

As a district we are given stats of upcoming applications so it is no news to the Surrey Board of Education or the government of impending growth in any area.

Prior to the government deciding that new schools cannot be built until all schools in an area are at 110 per cent capacity, the protocol was to  build as developments were approved so schools were ready when children moved into the area.

It is the protocol that needs to be fixed.

Surrey School District Supt. Jordan Tinney and Secretary-Treasurer Wayne Noye, along with Surrey Board of Education Chairperson Shawn Wilson, have tirelessly and relentlessly met, presented and pleaded with various provincial ministers of education and treasury boards to convince them of Surrey’s uniqueness.

As a board, we have also met with MLAs and MPs  to ask for their help.

As a board  we do not work in a silo and have liaised with the City of Surrey, Surrey Board of Trade, CUPE , Surrey Teachers’ Association and parent groups to collaborate to lobby the government for more schools and having them approved prior to schools being at 110 per cent capacity and then waiting for four years if approval is given while it goes through the building process.

Parents who are either losing or having their programs affected or children not being able to go to their neighbourhood schools weigh heavily on all trustees, and trustees have met with these groups and individuals to see if any solutions can be found.

As trustees, we know the government is now hearing how dire the situation in Surrey is for our most precious asset – our children.

 

Trustee Laurie Larsen

Vice-Chair, Surrey Board of Education

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