TIME TO PUT SURREY STUDENTS BEFORE PHOTO-OPS SAY NEW DEMOCRATS
VICTORIA— New Democrats are calling on the Liberal government to put its money where its mouth is and start building the new schools the premier promised the Surrey School District last fall.
“It has been almost four months since the premier came to Surrey and promised new schools,” said Harry Bains, MLA for Surrey-Newton. “More than 7000 students are in portables, hoping for a real classroom while the school district waits on the Liberal government to get their act together and deliver the instructions they need to move forward.”
According to a letter from the Ad Hoc Committee Advocating for Surrey Schools which was sent to Education Minister George Abbott on Jan. 19, 2012, the Surrey School district approved architects for new schools on Nov. 10, 2011, less than two weeks after the premier announced capital funding for new schools in the district. Yet, months later, the district continues to wait for the Liberal government to allow them to continue the process.
“Once again we see that rather than putting families first, this government puts photo-ops first,” said New Democrat education critic Robin Austin. “The population of Surrey increased by more than 18 per cent between 2006 and 2011, and the number of students in the district increased by over 2700.During that time the Liberal government failed to make any significant capital investments in the school district. Now, despite the premier’s promises, children in Surrey have been left hanging by a government that is more interested in appearances than action.”
A letter from the Minister of Education, dated Feb. 15, 2012, admits that “capital plan instructions were not released last year” and gives no indication of when the district can expect to receive the information they need to move forward. Adrian Dix and the New Democrats question why Surrey and possibly other school districts have been kept waiting despite best efforts on their part, while students are stuck in portables.
“The Liberals should have had all the information school districts needed ready before they proceeded with their photo-op,” said Austin. “Clearly, the Liberal government has the wrong priorities.”