Vancouver School Board trustee Janet Fraser to present motion “Not to Sell School Lands” at October 13 meeting

Janet Fraser, Green PartyAccording to a media release today by the Green Party of Vancouver, school board trustee Janet Fraser will present a motion to the October 13, 2015 school board meeting (open to the public) seeking a commitment not to sell school lands.

Full text of her motion:

Given that there is significant concern about the possibility of selling VBE school lands, it is recommended that: The VBE commit to not sell VBE school lands but maintain or increase our current number of school sites, to preserve neighbourhood sites for current and future educational and community use.

There was considerable media coverage in June 2015 on this topic. An excerpt from CBC on June 9th (19 Vancouver school closures suggested by audit):

The B.C. government released an audit report of the Vancouver School Board on Tuesday that suggests up to 19 schools could be looked at for possible closure or sale in an effort to save millions of dollars a year. The 225-page review by Ernst & Young found the board could find a one-time saving of up to $750 million in asset sales, and total annual savings of $72 million though increased revenues and reduced costs. The latter includes $37 million in savings that could be found by addressing nearly 10,400 surplus seats in Vancouver schools.

“There are significant opportunities for the Vancouver School District, and other districts in the province I might add, to look at ways to ensure that every dollar that can be invested in students and not in empty classrooms is the priority,” said B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender, commenting on the report.

The report does not identify which 19 schools should be assessed for closure. However, it does point out that enrolment has not improved at Queen Alexandra or Sir William MacDonald.

What if the Province considered selling ALL school lands in British Columbia? Imagine how much money could be gained from the sale, and annual costs saved. Ms. Fraser’s motion is worthy of a good public discussion.

Related media coverage:

19 Vancouver school closures suggested by audit: Ernst & Young audit says Vancouver School Board could save $750M by selling assets
CBC News Posted: Jun 09, 2015

The report by Ernst & Young:

Vancouver School Board closes first school — a tiny underused annex
Parents agree to move students to nearby elementary school which offers more programs
(Joanne Lee-Young, Vancouver Sun, 21-June-2015)

Could Vancouver schools be sold to international buyers?
by Anna Gebauer on June 24th, 2015. special to Georgia Straight


It seems we could be on the verge of witnessing the entrance of an entirely new class of well-financed administrators, educators, and students, all too excited to join the B.C. educational landscape, albeit in a very separate way. According to Froese, it is unlikely that the international schools would admit local residents.

And so while local parents ensnare themselves in the public-private school debate, or skirt uncomfortable school-yard conversations with parents of their children’s peers; while some opt to pony up the resources for private school entrance, or just plain pray a spot opens up; while B.C. teachers, government, and school boards continue to bicker between themselves about budgets and best practices, perhaps we would all be better served to step back, and consider what kind of educational landscape we want to see both now and in the future.

How the Vancouver school board tackles its financial challenges in its next budget is as emotional as it is complex. How it proceeds in the face of those challenges could become a blueprint for other districts encountering similar challenges.

Suggestion to close 19 Vancouver schools ‘short-sighted’: critics
Representatives criticize special adviser’s controversial report
(Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun, 11-June-2015)

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