ZYTARUK: Is the real estate bubble costing jobs in Delta’s schools?

What's missing from the equation? In Delta's case, growth.

Abode

So let it be written…

 

Not only is this increasingly absurd run on local house prices keeping some people from buying their own castle, it looks like it might also indirectly cost some Delta school district employees their jobs.

Abode and livelihood, in one fell swoop.

Congratulations, B.C.

The Delta School District is facing a projected budget deficit of $3.38 million and is carrying forward a shortfall of $1.5 million from 2015-16. So in an attempt to balance its $160 million (or so) annual budget, as required by the provincial government, the district is looking at “making adjustments” and “staff restructuring” as well as expanding its continuing education and international student programs.

Oh, they have formulas, and say, with allusions to Dickens, that, as these are based on projected conditions and not absolute certainties, there may yet be opportunity to “sponge away the writing on this stone.”

But currently the black and white of it is, if the Delta school board ratifies the budget recommendations, the district could well be minus two full-time library techs, half a clerical job, six teachers and six to 12 education assistants. Joe Strain, Delta School District’s secretary treasurer, suspects the loss of any current teaching and EA jobs might be able to be avoided through attrition — retirement and such. We’ll see, I guess.

Across Scott Road, in that unwieldy beast of a school district that is Surrey, the board of education there expects to hire 50 more teachers and 100 education assistants despite going mano-a-mano with a $4 million budget shortfall in its 2016-17 school year.

So what gives? Is Surrey possessed of a magic hiring wand? Is it the valedictorian and Delta, the class clown? I mean, Surrey + budget woes = hiring, while Delta + budget woes = fewer jobs. What’s missing from the equation?

In Delta’s case, growth. Surrey, with well over 70,000 students already, has to handle an increase of 800 full-time students in September, including roughly 200 Syrian refugees. According to Surrey’s school board Chairman Shawn Wilson, the increase in students is equivalent to enrolment at two mid-sized elementary schools.

On the other hand Delta, with its 15,300 students, anticipates enrolment to be up by one student next year.

One.

So why is Surrey hiring while Delta is not? “They are a growing district,” Strain notes, “so they have to.”

Hey, North Delta is a nice community. I grew up there. So why isn’t its school enrolment growing like Surrey’s, on the other side of Scott Road.

It has to be that housing is cheaper — and I’m speaking in relative terms here — in Surrey than it is in North Delta. The municipality and city are separated only by a road, for goodness sakes.

And so, it seems to me, if this zeppelin-sized real estate bubble doesn’t pop, or at least leak a little here and there, the many regular folk will continue to be displaced by the fewer rich and richer, who can still afford to buy property in the land of the Sungod. This results, as I see it, in dropping enrolment and, tragically, job loss.

We need to fix this.

 

So let it be done…

 

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