Letters to the Editor

Extravagance costs students


Re: Accept blame for secondary squeeze play, Feb. 16.

I am a parent who, in the week of Feb. 7, first heard of Earl Marriott Secondary’s proposal for extending the school day. I was not consulted nor was I informed of alternatives that were considered but rejected.

I also have not heard short-term and long-term plans to properly resolve the issue of overcrowding and future growth. Clearly the required funding to build new schools or fund additional portables is not on the agenda at this time.

Extending the school day – flexible scheduling – does not address the basic issues facing the school: a growing population and lack of sufficient funds. I believe there are better short-term options.

First, consider the student population. The school is well over capacity. My child who attends the school says the kids are shoulder-to-shoulder in the hallways at class change, and portables litter the property. Buildings open to the public usually are subject to fire or other regulations that limit capacity. That a fire were to occur in the school frightens me to no end.

Where have the students come from? Surrey has been growing steadily and projections are it will continue to grow. There don’t appear to be clear catchment areas nor does there seem to be an enrolment cap.

The French-immersion program draws large numbers of students. Does Earl Marriott receive funding incentives that make it attractive to continue to accommodate the program? Perhaps the district should relocate the French -immersion program to a facility with the capacity to support it. This would increase the number of available classrooms and ease overcrowding in common areas.

Now, consider the funding allocated to the school program itself. Our school offers a wide variety of courses. I was amazed our school calendar reads more like a community-college calendar than a high school course offering – courses such as Travel and Tourism 11 and 12, Graphic Literature and five discrete Carpentry and Joinery courses, to name a few.

I can only imagine it is more costly to offer such choices: books, materials, accommodation, specialized tools and equipment… These specialized courses must require specialized teachers.

Perhaps the curriculum is too extravagant. In the short term, could the resources be better used to ensure there are sufficient portables?

Flexible scheduling is not an answer. How can the addition of one hour to the school address overcrowding? It is a shell game which will continue to worsen as enrolment increases. Students are going to be shunted out of class, to where, for an hour of non-instructional time.

Earl Marriott should cap enrolment and reduce the course offerings to a more basic level. It should also ensure there are an appropriate number of portables.

What is missing is a long-term plan to deal with the realities of educating a growing population.

Overcrowding did not suddenly happen and the future projections of growth are not new. Where is the funding to build new schools appropriate to community demand?

Flexible scheduling at Earl Marriott does not address these issues.

C. Robertson, Surrey


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