British Columbia

Vancouver School Board budget standoff: What happens next?

The VSB voted 5-4 Thursday night against approving a budget proposing $24M in cuts to programs, services and staff.

The VSB voted 5-4 against approving a budget proposing $24M in cuts to programs, services and staff

What happens next now that the VSB voted 5-4 to reject the budget? (iStock)

Now that the Vancouver School Board has rejected a proposed balanced budget, what happens next? 

The VSB voted 5-4 last night against approving the budget which proposed $24 million in cuts to programs, services and staff.

VSB chair Mike Lombardi hopes the first step will be a meeting with B.C. Minister of Education Mike Bernier.

"We have requested additional funds from the minister and I think we can make a case for that," he said. "He agrees with us that having a positive vibrant education system is important."

"What we want to do is explain to the minister what we've heard from our parents and from our students and from the rest of the community," he said. "They basically said that these cuts are unacceptable."

The vote last night, however, could mean some uncertain times for school board trustees. 

The province is now in a position to dismiss the elected board and replace them with a provincially appointed trustee — school boards are required by law to submit a balanced budget.

'We urged them to an act of civil disobedience'

Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council Vice Chair Farah Shroff said her organization supports the decision to reject the budget.

She's hopeful the standoff will lead to "a genuine conversation" about how to get more money into Vancouver schools.

"We're thrilled that they did so," said Shroff. "We urged them to basically do an act of civil disobedience by voting against the budget. We're speaking out against the entire system and the way it is currently stacked against the children and against good public education."

Shroff says the claims made by the education minister that funding to public schools is at an all-time high don't paint an accurate picture  — she says many costs, including hydro, MSP premiums and some superintendent salaries — have been off-loaded to school districts, meaning boards actually have less money for school programs. 

"If you don't look at the full picture it's impossible to speak intelligently about the numbers," she said.

The rejected budget proposed cutting elementary music and special education programs, as well as eliminating up to 200 jobs. 

The VSB still has until June 30 to submit a final budget to the province. 

With files from Farrah Merali


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