BRITISH COLUMBIA

Parents Protest School Overcrowding In South Surrey

04/15/2013 06:17 EDT | Updated 06/15/2013 05:12 EDT
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A teacher welcome pupils in a classroom at David Johnston primary school on September 4, 2012, in Bordeaux, southwestern France, after the start of the new school year. AFP PHOTO / PIERRE ANDRIEU (Photo credit should read PIERRE ANDRIEU/AFP/GettyImages)
Parents are lobbying the provincial government for more money to build schools in Surrey, B.C., as the problem of chronic overcrowding continues to worsen.

The growing community has 7,000 students housed in 265 portables.

On Monday, parents gathered at Earl Marriott Secondary, which is 500 students over capacity, to urge families to contact their MLAs and the premier.

Two years ago, students staged a walkout protest, but parents say little has changed.

“It's extremely congested, everything is too busy... your lockers, your hallways, your lab times,” said Bob Holmes, who has a daughter in Grade 8.

Land has been acquired to build a new Earl Marriott school, but funding is still required to construct it.

“We've been growing for 20 years, so that says a lot about the community, but it does carry with it some challenges,” said Doug Strachan of the Surrey School Board.

“The land is in place for the secondary school and I think [parents] want to make sure that the next step of funding for construction is on the table as soon as possible,” Strachan said.

Parents at Earl Marriott worry if numbers at their school swell anymore, it will need to move to a split schedule. That would mean half of the students would attend in the morning, while the other half would stay into the evening to learn.

In February, the government announced that it would build a new high school in Surrey's Clayton North area. The $34 million facility would only be completed in September 2016, according to school district officials.