ACT Now Surrey trustee candidates want elected board to provide needed learning support

Slate wants enough teachers on call hired

ACT Now Surrey school trustee candidates say students “must receive the education they deserve.”

The ACT Now Surrey, which stands for “Action, Consultation and Transparency,” said in a press release Tuesday (Sept. 25) that it wants to ensure the Surrey Board of Education “provides needed and legally ordered learning support for Surrey students.”

The slate is comprised of candidates Niovi Patsicakis, a retired Surrey learning support teacher; Aronjit Lageri, a clinical instructor who is now a manager in medical imaging; and Dupinder Kaur Saran, a nurse.

“A full year has passed during which the Surrey School Board could have and should have addressed the shortage of teachers to properly support our students.” said Patsicakis.

The release says that “Despite the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada decision restoring BC’s teacher-student ratios, this has not been realized.”

Patsicakis said the school board, in order to comply with the Supreme Court of Canada order, “needs to hire an additional 250 learning support teachers for the 2017-18 school year, which would assist at least 7,000 more vulnerable students.

Saran said these are critical formative years for students’ lives, and the school board needs to address their educational needs.

“If we don’t, it may well adversely affect their self esteem, mental health and entire future. Restoring student-teacher ratios is not some luxury that we can afford to put off to some future date,” Saran said.

Last year, the Surrey School District hired 66 fewer learning support teachers.

Then in May 2018, the school district said it intended to hire 66 new teachers, 24 educational assistants and 28 support staff for an anticipated growth of 850 more students in the 2018-19 school year.

RELATED: Surrey Teachers’ Association says learning support teacher cuts are ‘unconscionable’

RELATED: Surrey school board balances budget for next year, but concerns remain

ACT Now Surrey also said in the release that it wants to ensure that enough teachers on call are hired so that “non-Enrolling Teachers will not be continually pulled out to replace classroom teachers as this puts needed programs on hold.”

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