As school wraps up for another year in Chilliwack, our elected officials still have some homework to do.
When students clean out their desks, chances are those desks will be in a portable classroom.
That’s because Chilliwack has proportionally more students housed in portables than any other school jurisdiction in the province – even Surrey.
In schools like Cheam Elementary, there are more portables than there are permanent classrooms.
And the problem is not going away. Chilliwack’s relative affordability is making it popular with young families – families whose children are either entering, or will soon enter, the public school system.
The Chilliwack school district is bracing for that wave. It’s put in a request for $296 million for new school construction and expansion over the next five years.
And that’s just to help deal with the 93 portable classrooms currently in place.
It’s not the first time Chilliwack has made the plea. But so far, aside from the expansion at Promontory (which won’t even eliminate the portables there), the district has heard little.
What they do hear is funding announcements for new schools and classroom space in Surrey, Langley, New Westminster, Burnaby, Langford, Courtney, Vancouver, and even Smithers.
Frankly, that’s not good enough. Every child has a right to an educational experience that includes being a part of a school community. School construction takes time and every day wasted is another day spent in a portable classroom.
School might be out for staff and students this week. But let’s hope our MLAs and our trustees are maintaining pressure on Premier John Horgan and education minster Rob Flemming to make good on their election promise to eliminate portables.