Settle education dispute – children are our future

Open letter to Education Minister Peter Fassbender and Premier Christy Clark:

At this time, I cannot be silent any longer. I recently sent two emails about my concerns about a mediator, prior to one trying to be appointed, and my personal concern as a trustee over class size and composition. It is a great concern as being a trustee that I cannot do the job I was elected to do.

We would not be in this tug of war of BCTF and the government if schools were adequately funded to start with. This affects the number of CUPE staff, SEAs, child care workers, specialists, helping teachers, aboriginal workers, counsellors, etc. that we as a board need to hire. These are vital workers who assist teachers in the classroom and allow them to do the job they have been professionally trained to do, but with cutbacks, important positions have been cut.

As Surrey being one of the very few districts with highly increasing enrolment, the situation is even compounded. You are aware of the overcrowding and the cost of portables that we have had to take from our budget that directly takes funding out of the classroom. By not funding new schools for so many years, Surrey has had to rely on portables and it has been a tremendous cost and we have met with you and the MLAs about all of the problems that go along with this so I won’t go over all of those concerns.

I ask you as a parent of the community, and as a trustee to not only earnestly try to meet and negotiate with the BCTF and I am asking the same from the BCTF, but to consider the effects that years of underfunding of the education system has caused and to remedy this.

As suggested in a previous email, visiting a classroom for a full day would give you a first-hand look at how classroom size and composition affects the classroom and the job teachers and staff deal with everyday. Actually sitting in a classroom for a full day would give you a very accurate picture of what teachers, staff, CUPE, administration and students have to deal with. The board has done the very best we can to alleviate some pressures but more funding is needed to give Surrey students the schools and services they deserve.

I am very passionate about the underfunding, portable costs and how the dispute has affected staff, parents, teachers, CUPE, and more importantly, the students.


Laurie Larsen

Surrey School Trustee

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