Dozens more portables being used at Surrey schools this year
Published Tuesday, August 13, 2019 5:41PM PDT
Students and teachers in Surrey are concerned about the growing number of portable classrooms at the city's schools.
The school district said it will use 361 portables in the upcoming school year – an increase of 28 from the year before.
“Portables get way too hot,” said Surrey Teachers Association president Matt Westphal, adding that the temperature can top 30 degrees on some days in the spring.
“One colleague had to bring three shirts to school every day because he had to keep changing after sweating through them,” Westphal said.
Some parents in Surrey share a similar story of how the temporary classrooms affect their children’s experiences at school.
“My daughter was put into a portable and in the winter she was freezing cold and in the summer it was so hot in there she was coming home in tears,” said Cindy Dalglish.
She said her community desperately needs more schools to keep up with the growth of Surrey’s population and housing stock.
“The sheer number of portables here is off the charts, it is just out of this league,” she said.
The school district estimates a student population of 74,000 in the upcoming 2019-20 school year -- a number it said has grown each year for decades.
Spokesperson Doug Strachan admits the large number of portables isn’t ideal, but said it is absolutely necessary at this moment.
Strachan explained construction has already started for new schools and expansions to current schools to fit about 5,000 new students by the 2021 school year.
“The bottom line is with 5,000 seats coming on in the next couple of years it is going to make a serious dent in the need,” Strachan said.
In a statement to CTV News, the BC NDP government blamed the increase in portables on its predecessor, the BC Liberals.
"The number of portables in Surrey nearly doubled under the previous government, leaving our government with a backlog of projects," the statement from the Ministry of Education said. “We’re working hard to meet the need for more space for students in Surrey. Our government approved six expansion projects in our first year – that’s three times as fast as the old government, which only approved two per year since 2008."