Beleaguered Vancouver School Board rejects $475,000 in corporate funding

WATCH (above): How could the Vancouver School Board turn down an offer hundreds of thousands of dollars with a budget deficit ? Turns out the offer came from Chevron Canada and other districts accepted. Jas Johal explains why the VSB turned it down.

It’s been a tough time recently for the Vancouver School District. Trustees need to find $12 million in savings to deal with a budget deficit, last month the district’s band program was almost eliminated until one-time funding was found to keep it going for another year, and in September, teachers will have to pay for their own parking.

Considering the budget challenges the Vancouver district is facing, many are surprised to learn that the school board turned down $475,000 from Chevron Canada – even though other districts have accepted the money.

According to Chevron spokesperson, Adrien Byrne, they were turned down by the Vancouver School District in a matter of about 24 hours.

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Chevron’s Fuel your School program allows teachers to directly apply for grants with a specific focus on math, science, and technology. Chevron has 24 retail outlets in Vancouver and beginning in October,  $1 from each fill-up would go the program.

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Chevron says there was to be no advertising at schools, the only corporate representation will be a Fuel your School decal, which would be seen at the gas pumps.

“Our view is we’re happy to take your funds, give it to us with no strings attached, no logo as other corporations do that,” said Mike Lombardi, Vancouver School Trustee.

“They don’t want to do it that way, that’s fine. We’ll look for other corporate sponsors who are happy to donate to our education program.”

Byrne said the kids would not see the name Chevron as there’s no corporate advertising in their program.

“Chevron examined the Vancouver School District’s corporate advertising policies and we felt we fell on the right side of it,” Byrne said.

To date, the Vancouver district does accept corporate sponsors, which includes money from the investment firm Wood Gundy.

The $475,000 the Vancouver district turned down went back to Chevron’s global head office and will be disbursed to schools in Malaysia and the U.S.

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“Corporations are doing lots of good work in our community and our schools and they very often step up and give us grants and funds but they don’t want recognitions and they don’t want their logos splashed all over the place,” according to Lombardi.

Chevron had set aside $800,000 for their B.C. Fuel your School program with the Surrey School District receiving $200,000 last year.  Global News has also learned that school districts in North and West Vancouver, Coquitlam, Burnaby, and some on Vancouver Island are in discussions for future funding.

~ with files from Jas Johal

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