Vancouver School Board votes for more public input on closures
District has been ordered to reduce number of empty seats in order to qualify for seismic upgrade funding
The Vancouver School Board voted last night to hold a series of public consultations before deciding which of 11 schools it might close.
"At this time, no decisions have been made. We need to hear from and talk with people throughout school communities who would be affected if any of these schools were to be closed," said Mike Lombardi, Chair of the Vancouver School Board.
The Education Ministry has told the school board it must get school occupancy levels up to qualify for provincial funding for seismic upgrades, but the ministry recently dropped a demand that schools be at 95 per cent enrolment in order to receive funding.
Lombardi said he's pleased the province is relaxing its rules, but he said the board still needs to proceed with possible closures.
"It's good that it's gone because it was arbitrary and didn't make sense," he said.
"However, the ministry in the end makes decisions about what schools get seismically upgraded and so they will continue to be looking at the seismic condition of the building, the enrolment and other factors."
Development plans sought
The board also voted last night to ask the city for more information about development projects so that it can gauge future enrolment.
Trustees also agreed they would only consider closing Dr. A.R. Lord Elementary if the school students are to be moved to — Begbie Elementary — is seismically upgraded. Begbie has a higher seismic risk rating that A.R. Lord.
The consultations are expected to begin online Oct. 11 and run until early November. Details of the process and schedules will be available at engage.vsb.bc.ca on Sept. 27.
Lombardi has previously said a final decision about which schools will close won't be made until December 2016, and the earliest the schools could shut their doors would be June 30, 2017.
Those schools are:
- Champlain Heights Annex
- McBride Annex
- Queen Elizabeth Annex
- Tecumseh Annex
- Admiral Seymour Elementary
- Dr. A.R. Lord Elementary
- Graham D. Bruce Elementary
- Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary
- Queen Alexandra Elementary
- Sir Guy Carleton Elementary
- Gladstone Secondary
Britannia Secondary was previously removed from the list.