VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The head of the union representing thousands of teachers across BC is looking forward to many more schools being built under the new NDP government.
BCTF President Glen Hansman says efforts are already being made to get kids out of portable classrooms in Chilliwack and Surrey where enrolment has been climbing steadily every year.
“I’m confident we’ll get there. Portables aren’t going to disappear overnight. They’ll still be used for seismic upgrades, but I’m looking forward — especially in the Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford corridor — some more ambitious plans and speedier timelines.”
Hansman adds it could take time to restore 15 years of cuts made by the former Liberal government after teachers were stripped of their right to negotiate class size and composition, but the priorities are the construction of more schools and much-needed seismic upgrades.
“We’ll get there eventually. I mean, one of the pressures that’s going to be on not just this government, but any future government, is the fact that enrolment’s going back up. More people in BC are having babies, more families are having their kids in public education and families are returning from the independent school system. Fast-growing places like Surrey and Chilliwack and the south Island.”
Hansman says that includes parts of Vancouver where the demographics have really shifted in recent years.
“Where families are living are in different places and we’ve got the Olympic Village area where there’s no school whatsoever and the West End in Vancouver where there’s only a couple school sites and a secondary school that is already at capacity. It’s long overdue for the province to commit the funding for a school in the Olympic Village region and, hopefully, that will be looked at as the priority measure in the short term.”
Vancouver currently has no school trustees, but a new board will be voted in during a by-election next month. The last board was fired earlier this year after repeatedly refusing to pass a balanced budget as ordered by the former Liberal government.
The first budget presented by the BC NDP will be tabled on September 11th and NEWS 1130 will have a team of reporters in Victoria and Vancouver covering every angle for you. We’ll also have the very latest on-air and online.