Construction of Adams Road Elementary School.

Put the P3 idea to pasture

Public-private partnerships are no good for Surrey schools.

Re: P3 proposed as an option for building Surrey schools (The Leader, Oct. 7).

We couldn’t agree more with the Surrey Board of Education and Surrey Students Now that the answer to Surrey’s current school overcrowding problems is not public-private partnerships.

We also question the City of Surrey’s suggestion that P3s should even be considered to build schools. This issue should be managed by our democratically-elected school trustees, with funding support from the provincial government.

P3 projects are more expensive, less democratic and lack transparency.

Control over P3 projects is handed over to a private entity, removing decision making from the public domain. Further, the Canadian experience with P3 schools has not been a good one. Auditor generals across Canada have criticized P3s for their significantly higher costs.

The direct cause of overcrowding in Surrey schools is the 15 years of chronic underfunding of public education by the BC Liberal government. Support workers in our schools have been cut to the bone. When custodians, education assistants and other support workers who are vital to public education are cut, students suffer.

At a recent Advocating for Education 101 meeting, we heard first-hand about the detrimental effects of overcrowding on students. This has got to stop.

The only way to address the issues of overcrowding and underfunding is to vote for education in the upcoming election.

This government doesn’t value public education at all. They have proven as much by allowing our schools to reach such a crisis point. It’s time to stand up for public education and for students. Let’s seize the opportunity to teach our provincial legislators a lesson – at the ballot box.

 

Ryan Groundwater

President, CUPE 728

(Surrey schools support workers)

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