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We've consistently underestimated the number of new students. That must change.: Councillor Linda Annis

Surrey, BC (Jan. 29, 2024): Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis says she will "reluctantly" accept the school district's 2024-25 capital plan at tonight's council meeting, but a new formula is needed to calculate enrolment.

"Frankly, I don't believe the numbers presented to council, I think they are too low and not realistic," said Annis. "But if we hold up this report then we hold up new schools, even when we believe that the numbers are wrong and inadequate. This something-is-better-than-nothing approach is the wrong way to ensure Surrey families have the schools we need. The fact that we are at 400 portables, which is almost 8,000 students, shows in stark terms that the formula used by the school district and the Province isn't working."

Annis said the idea that 51,000 new housing units built over the 10 years will only generate 9,700 school-age children is hard to understand.

"The formula just isn't accurate, and it doesn't take into account modern realities, which include more young families in townhomes, seniors downsizing and selling to families with children, and the fact that families with children are living in apartments. Year after year, more children are showing up at the start of the school year than were planned. That fact alone should tell us that we're using the wrong formula.”

Annis said the school district and the Province also need to look at different options for building schools faster, including public-private partnerships that are used in other provinces.