British Columbia

VSB votes to save unique Aboriginal program at elementary school

The Vancouver School Board has taken steps to protect its unique Aboriginal Focus program at Sir William Macdonald elementary school.

School will stay open until 2020 with seismic upgrade priority, says board member Patti Bacchus

The Aboriginal School Focus program at Sir William Macdonald Elementary school is now in its fourth year. (Vancouver School Board)

The Vancouver School Board has taken steps to protect its unique Aboriginal Focus program at Sir William Macdonald elementary school.

On Monday night, trustees voted to keep the school open until at least 2020, to make its earthquake upgrades a priority and to begin a process to rename the school.

It is home to a special Aboriginal Focus School. Now in its fourth year, the program allows students in kindergarten through Grade 4 to focus on the values, culture, experiences and histories of Aboriginal peoples.

In June, parents held a rally demanding the VSB grant assurances the school would not be closed. 

Their concern was sparked by the Ernst & Young Special Adviser's report commissioned earlier this year by the provincial government.

It recommended the closure or sale of as many as 19 schools in order to reduce the school board's projected budget shortfall of $15 million. 

"Parents were having second thoughts about enrolling in the school because of the fear of the kind of disruption they could face if the board came back this year to say, 'Now we're going to close it," said Bacchus.

"If this school doesn't succeed, we don't want it to be because of something we didn't do."

To hear the full interview with Patti Bacchus, listen to the audio labelled: VSB takes steps to save Aboriginal Focus school at elementary school.


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