News Views: Loud and clear

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district left out of new school funding

Premier Christy Clark announced $353 million in capital funding for schools on Monday, but none for the Liberal riding of Maple Ridge-Mission, where Albion elementary is turning kids away and the surrounding neighbourhood remains the fastest growing in the district.

A new elementary school in Albion has been the local school district’s top capital priority for several years now, and for which it has already purchased land.

Second on the priority list is expanding Samuel Robertson secondary – also in Albion. For some reason it was built for 600 students and now has about 1,000.

Albion elementary has 555.

Both projects were given a “high” rating by the province this past March.

Last year, the school district passed up money for new modular classrooms to house the province’s newest initiative, all-day Kindergarten, instead touching up and reusing old portables it had stored away in hope that such a frugal decision would be remembered when new capital money became available.

Yet the need for a new school in Albion was not deemed important enough this time around, despite the fact Liberal MLA Marc Dalton won his seat in the last provincial election by just 198 votes. He has since been the target of a recall campaign, which was only called off so organizers could focus on fighting the HST – which they did, successfully.

Now Mr. Dalton can’t even deliver funding for a new building in his own riding to relieve overcrowding at Albion elementary, which in September added five more portables and another Kindergarten class – for four in all – and still had to turn students away.

So if not now, then when? No doubt just before the next provincial election.

But the need is not now, it was five years ago.

And growth in Albion is not about to slow; in fact, more growth there is the main topic of the current municipal election.

Evidently, sending smoke signals is not enough.

If voters of this riding are tired of being left out, of being told to wait until next time, they need to send a louder message.

– The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News