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Surrey families are being shortchanged by the provincial government, with more crowding in sight: Councillor Linda Annis

Surrey, B.C. (February 20, 2024): Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis says extending the school day and adding more portables are not the solutions Surrey families deserve when it comes to overcrowded schools in the province’s largest school district.

Annis said plans to extend the hours in seven Surrey high schools -- which means students would either start earlier or stay later - is just one more red flag that Surrey families are being shortchanged by the provincial government.

“We are now the school portable capital of British Columbia, and rather than build more schools faster, the province is forcing more portables and extended hours on Surrey students and their families,” said Annis. “At the same time, the out-of-date formula used by the city and school district to calculate the number of new students each year is a complete failure, with more students showing up in September than planned. Frankly, Surrey parents and local MLAs should be speaking out and demanding that the provincial government do more, and do it faster.”

Annis said Alberta and Saskatchewan have a highly successful public-private partnership with BC-based Concert Infrastructure that is producing schools faster and cheaper, something the provincial government and school district should seriously consider.

“We’ve got almost 400 portables in Surrey, that’s about 8,000 students, and there’s no sign we’re getting rid of any portables in the years to come,” said Annis. “Those so-called temporary portables have become permanent, and now we’re going to extended hours for seven high schools, all because we do not have the schools we need. Apparently, it takes about five years to get a high school and frankly, I don’t believe Surrey taxpayers are getting the schools we deserve. If we don’t demand more new schools with a faster turnaround time, we’re telling the provincial government that second best is good enough for our city and its families, and I don’t believe that for one minute.”

Annis said portables and extended school hours reinforce the serious problems in Surrey schools.

“More students are coming, and the fact that we cannot even get those numbers right, should worry every parent in our city,” added Annis. “We do not have enough schools, and worse, there are no plans to really catch up and correct the problem. We need innovative solutions, and a serious commitment from the province, not just more portables or longer hours to paper over the real problem, which is the need for more schools built faster. Parents and city hall should accept nothing less.”