Vancouver School Board hosts open house

Click to play video: 'Open house discusses possible VSB school closures'
Open house discusses possible VSB school closures
WATCH: The Vancouver School Board kicked off the first of several open houses planned over the next few month. Districts are facing pressures on several fronts - declining enrolment, tighter budgets, and schools that are not seismically safe. As Tanya Beja reports, several schools will have to close – Mar 5, 2016

The Vancouver School Board hosted its first open house to gather community input on the Long Range Facilities Plan.

“We think it’s a pretty good plan, but it’s based on staff, research and dialogue. Now we need to make sure that the community is part of that plan,” said VSB Chair Mike Lombardi.

Several families attended the event at Creekside Community Centre to share concerns on everything from school closures to seismic upgrades.

Ulf Von Deyn has two children attending General Wolfe Elementary, one of several school badly in need of seismic repairs. Von Deyn says he is frustrated by the slow pace of work.

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READ MORE: Vancouver School Board facing a projected $24M budget shortfall

“We talk about whether we should be leaving our kids in a structure like that because of the risk factor,” says Von Deyn.

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“They had 500 million to do a (BC Place) roof here, that happened very quickly, right? And when it comes to the danger of our kids, that doesn’t seem to have the same sense of urgency, and that blows my mind.”

Securing funding for seismic repairs is part of the motivation behind the Long Range Facilities Plan. The Vancouver School Board needs to ensure its schools are 95 per cent full in order to meet provincial funding targets. Meeting those targets could trigger the closure of up to 12 elementary schools and one high school over the next 15 years. But parent advocacy groups say the targets are arbitrary and put student safety and education at risk.

“They actually need to come into schools and look into what’s happening in schools, and not look at schools as a number on a page, not look at students as a number on a page,” said Carrie Bercic of Families Against Cuts to Education.

The VSB will host several more open houses over the next three months before finalizing the facilities plan in June.

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