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Peace Arch Arch News News Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Peace

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Rotary Club of White Rock’s

Frustration over waiting for school building funds

Trustees prod province Sheila Reynolds Black Press

It was a year ago that Shawn Wilson, head of the Surrey Board of Education, stood in an empty field in Cloverdale, hopeful that a new, much-needed high school would soon take shape there. The provincial government – three months away from an election – had announced it was committing $10.5 million to help pay for a new, 1,200-student secondary school in the Clayton area. Today, the land remains empty. “We’re hugely frustrated as a board,” said trustee Terry Allen, noting the need for more school space in fast-growing neighbourhoods is already critical, with thousands of students attending classes in 285 portables. Allen said the province needs to fulfill its promises – and fast. “They’re already committed, big time. And still, we haven’t seen one penny,” he said In a precedent-setting move in January 2012, the district put up $5 million of its own money – with the hope government would repay it – to hire architects and get a jump-start on planning new schools. The idea was that when provincial funding was approved, construction could begin immediately. Plans are tentatively ready, but the district can’t move without provincial funding, Allen said. “It’s driving us crazy,” he said. “You know and I know that government doesn’t have a whole pile of money, but there are certain things that the government is responsible to provide.” There’s been no word on repayment of the $5 million, which was used for not only a new Clayton high school, but another in Grandview and expansions at two elementaries. South Surrey’s Grandview-area high school is

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Board chair Shawn Wilson visits the site of a planned school in 2013. needed to alleviate overcrowding at Earl Marriott and Lord Tweedsmuir secondaries. Allen believes partnering with the city or health region to make better use of the space in Grandview is a great opportunity. The City of Surrey expressed interest last spring in creating a socalled Campus of Learning-Active Living and Sport Excellence, with a recreation and aquatic centre next to the planned high school. “We’ve got to have a school, there’s no question about that, so

why can’t they come up with the funding for us to start the process?” asked Allen. “If it did have a clinic attached, or community centre, how much better is that for the public than having a school that’s only open for 12 hours a day? It’s all taxpayers’ money, no matter which way you look at it.” Even if construction began today, it would take a minimum of two years to build. Meetings are planned with the Minister of Education and Surrey MLAs to highlight the district’s concerns.

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A message from the Surrey Teachers’ Association

Peace Arch News, February 25, 2014  
Peace Arch News, February 25, 2014  

February 25, 2014 edition of the Peace Arch News