British Columbia

Potential Vancouver school closures subject of public meeting

The VSB is facing its largest-ever budget shortfall and concerned East Vancouver parents fear their schools could be casualties.

No closures have been announced, but 19 of 21 being considered are on East Side

Sir William MacDonald Elementary is home to the VSB's Aboriginal Focus School. (Google Streetview)

Potential school closures have some East Vancouver parents and residents worried, and they've organized a meeting with Vancouver School Board officials tonight to voice those concerns.

Dorothy Barkley, president of the Grandview Woodland Area Council, is the organizer of tonight's event.

She's worried the VSB is considering closing or re-purposing as many as 21 schools over the next 14 years so it can meet the province's requirements for schools to be filled to 95 per cent capacity before moving ahead with seismic upgrades.

"Many of our [East Vancouver] schools don't meet those numbers, and as a result, there's talk of closing schools that aren't those numbers," Barkley told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn. "Nineteen of the 21 schools under consideration are on the East Side."

"The East Side, generally, has fewer advantages, both socially and economically, than the West Side. So there's a great sense of vulnerability."

Barkley says the VSB can't be certain about the numbers of students coming into the area because of faulty census data.

She also says some schools have value beyond their enrolment numbers, such as Sir William Macdonald Elementary School, home to an aboriginal program.

The VSB is facing its largest-ever budget shortfall: $27.26 million dollars for the 2016/17 school year.

Officials say job cuts, larger classes, and the elimination of elementary band and strings program are all on the table.

The public meeting about potential school closures begins at 7 p.m. PT at the Learning Resources Centre at Britannia Community Centre.

With files from On The Coast

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Concerned parents meeting over potential school closures in East Vancouver


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