It’s just not working.
The formula and policy used to determine when and how new schools are planned for, approved and built is just not working in Surrey and both parents and trustees have had enough.
Currently school capacity numbers must be significantly over what a school population should be to prove over capacity – by the time a new school is built,often up to 4 years later, that school is already overcapacity on opening day.
Considering an estimated 1000 new residents are coming to Surrey every month,largely in part due to the never ending development, it’s ridiculous to continue to rely on this method of planning – it doesn’t work in Surrey. Planning documents that go before council when approving developments include estimates on how many students will enter local catchment schools. It just makes sense to plan as we go, rather than wait until we are bursting at the seams to do something. Parents concerns are now resulting in organized actions, as this story from March demonstrates: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/local+news/overcrowding+challenges+surrey+schools/11821855/story.html
This new website, created by concerned South Newton parents, shows extensive research and facts that support their concerns: http://southnewtoncommunity.weebly.com/facts.html
The District is responsible for prioritizing how Provincial funds are used, however, the District is at the mercy of the Province to provide that funding.
When a development proposal comes in to The City of Surrey, the area planning department sends out details of the development to the District for their feedback. The District provides their feedback in the form of a report. This report (along with other reports and recommendations) are then put in front of the City Council. After the City Council approve the first pass through of the proposal, you will then see the green development signs pop up in the neighbourhood. The District has no further say in the development process and they are only otherwise engaged every 5 years for neighbourhood planning (which historically is out of date before it is put in place).
As of March 7, 2016 there were development proposals for more than 550 units for our neighbourhood. We can only guess the number of proposals that will receive approval let alone the number of children that will be added to our community.
The Ministry of Education has different numbers of what constitutes a classroom than the District. For example, according to the Ministry, a Kindergarten class has a capacity of 20, whereas the District states there is room for 22.
Being conservative and using the capacity numbers, we were 471 students over our capacity in 2016 for our area (that is 6 schools in a 10 block radius – Hyland, McLeod Rd, Ecole Woodward Hill, Cambridge, Goldstone, and Sullivan.
There are portables (temporary relief) and there are modulars (permanent). Portables receive their funding from the operating budget which impacts the schools ability to provide other resources for their students (additional EA’s, library resources, equipment, technology, etc.).
All of it has lead to this: Surrey School trustees asking Surrey mayor Linda Hepner and council to temporarily halt new development proposals in certain neighbourhoods until the provincial government can fund the needed infrastructure. http://www.peacearchnews.com/news/376791711.html
Increasingly frustrated with the snail’s pace at which new schools are being built, Surrey trustees are asking city council to halt new development until growth is adequately addressed.
On Thursday, Surrey Board of Education Trustee Laurae McNally tabled a motion that the City of Surrey “temporarily suspend all new development approvals in the Clayton, Grandview/South Surrey and Newton regions until the Surrey School District receives adequate provincial funding to support the growing numbers of students moving into these regions.”
The motion passed unanimously.
“It’s the kids in this city who are suffering,” said McNally. “Parents have been unbelievably patient, but the province needs to step up and make some announcements in Surrey.”
The city says that’s just not possible. The province says they have committed to infrastructure investments but those investments are still not enough as new residents continue to flood local schools. Parents are feeling stuck in the middle,not knowing where their children will go to school and how crowded it will be when they get there. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/halt-development-for-sake-of-education-says-trustee-laurae-mcnally-1.3551179
I’ve created a petition for parents to show their support for the efforts of school trustees on this matter and to demonstrate their desire to see the city and province find a collaborative solution to the current problems:
After years of over-crowding in schools in many neighbourhoods in Surrey British Columbia, we have reached a crisis point. Current growth projections clearly indicate that infrastructure will not keep pace with development.
The choice seems clear, either the province must immediately move up infrastructure investments to keep pace with growth, or the city must halt development applications where schools are already overburdened. To that end, Surrey school trustees have now asked Surrey city council to ” temporarily suspend all new development approvals until the district receives more provincial capital funding.”
We, the parents of children in School District #36 know very well that our children are attending schools so over populated that resources and play spaces are stretched to the breaking point.
We know too that livable communities require vital infrastructure to enable them to be successful communities. Our children should not be forced to suffer the results of poor planning and policy decisions. Therefore, we are asking the city Surrey and the provincial government to immediately come together to collaboratively expedite a solution.
By signing this petition, you are indicating that you support the actions outlined above, in support of the students in School District #36.
This petition will be delivered to:
- Mike Bernier
- Mayor Linda Hepner & Surrey city council
Please stand up for Surrey students and show your support by signing here: https://www.change.org/p/mike-bernier-expedite-infrastructure-to-keep-pace-with-development-needs-in-surrey-school-district