Every Vancouver school to be evaluated for possible closure

Every Vancouver public school will be evaluated for possible closure according to the Vancouver School Board's updated Long Range Facilities Plan.

School Board staff will examine all Vancouver schools to decide which ones to close

Vancouver School Board Chair Mike Lombardi says education money from the province falls short of what school districts need. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Every Vancouver public school will be evaluated for possible closure according to the Vancouver School Board's updated Long Range Facilities Plan.

The VSB said Tuesday staff will spend the next month soliciting public feed back and examining all VSB schools through the perspective of the LRFP to determine which schools are a priority for seismic upgrading, and which ones could be considered for potential closure.

The list of those schools will be presented to trustees in June.

The updated plan says the VSB is considering the closure of 12 elementary schools and one secondary school over the next 15 years as part of its seismic upgrading plan. An additional eight schools could be closed and re-purposed for temporary use while other schools undergo seismic upgrading.

The plan follows three months of community consultation and still needs to be approved by VSB trustees at a May 24 meeting.

"All in all, it was a very positive report. We heard from the community. We will now then go back and the board will update the plan. It will then be sent out to the minister, and the superintendent will start implementation of the plan," according to VSB Chair Mike Lombardi, who said more 2,500 people took part in the consultation."

Lombardi said the staff report found people were open to school closures if they improve and expedite seismic upgrades and improved teaching and learning conditions.

The consultation also found people were receptive to potentially selling non-school VSB-owned sites like Kingsgate Mall to fund seismic upgrades or new school construction.

"The initial report, the interim report — and this one hasn't changed — said potentially, up to 21 schools might be closed by 2030 to complete our seismic upgrade plans and to also build our new schools. So that hasn't changed, the potential for that happening is there," said Lombardi on Tuesday.

"But the earliest that anything could happen with any school that has kids in it, according to the superintendent's report, is September 2017."

Maquinna Annex in East Vancouver is set to close this fall. (Vancouver School Board)

Lombardi said three of the city's 15 elementary school annexes — Cheif Maquinna, Laurier, and Henderson — do not have any students enrolled for the fall and will likely be closed and re-purposed for community use.

"As a result of those closures, we'll be saving some money by not having to have principals, custodians, and secretarial staff in those schools, and we'll be anticipating some lease revenue," he said, adding that those savings have already been factored into the current operating budget which remains unresolved with a $24 million shortfall, and has resulted in the layoffs of 167 teachers and staff,

Report has little bearing on budget shortfall

Lombardi said today's update to the Long Range Facilities Plan has little bearing on the operating budget crunch.

"We have a separate capital planning process and a separate operating budget proposal, and they can't be co-mingled," said Lombardi.


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