B.C. announces 240 new student seats in Surrey

B.C.’s education minister says a new addition to a Surrey elementary school will add 240 student seats. But as Kier Junos reports, concerns remain about school infrastructure pressures in the city.

The province says a Surrey elementary school has 240 new spots for students, with hundreds more on the way for the district — but one teacher says it’s just a drop in the bucket.

Despite new investments in Surrey schools, teachers say the B.C. government needs to step up if it wants to keep up with the growing number of students in the city — currently at around 78,000.

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Lizanne Foster with the Surrey Teachers Association wants to see more, as she recalls that students at K.B. Woodward Elementary were piling into a dozen portable when the last school year ended in June. Even with the new upgrades, four portables will remain.

“The same day they are making that announcement that they’re getting rid of eight portables at K.B. Woodward, we just got a phone call from another school saying they’ve got 14 portables,” she said. “It’s like whack-a-mole.”

“They go to one school, and they remove some portables there, and then those portables still get redistributed somewhere else … they told us before December break, that they’re looking at over 400 new portables.”

Making things more challenging, she says the district has to use its own operating budget when buying or moving portables.

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In April, the Surrey Board of Education wrote an open letter to B.C. Minister of Education and Childcare Rachna Singh — saying schools are far over capacity and calling for more capital funding.

Singh says the province is in the planning stages on more projects that will make for more student spaces in Surrey’s School District 36 “to help keep up with the growing enrollment.”

“It is 240-seat additions like this one here at K.B. Woodward that will provide learning spaces for our flourishing city, these additions also mean we will able to say goodbye to many of the portables that you see on-site today.”

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