The yellow wood-frame school at Carleton Elementary on Kingsway will shut down this summer and remain locked for 2016-17 school year. Students will be transferred to the brick building next door.
“It’s money and that’s why they’re doing it, and it’s a huge tragedy for our neighbourhood,” Vancouver-Kingsway NDP MLA Adrian Dix said.
“The space, the people, the teachers, the friendships, you can’t put a price on that,” parent Ann Wong said.
Wong’s two children attended Carleton and she fought to save the school once before. When the VSB faced an $18-million shortfall in 2010, trustees looked at the possibility of closing Carleton. Parents rallied, and the school remained opened.
“I can’t just believe that six years later we’re having to go through this exact same thing again,” Wong said.
Now, the VSB is facing pressure from the province to ensure schools are 95 per cent full. It’s part of the criteria the district must meet in order to receive provincial funding for seismic upgrades. Carleton only has roughly 300 students and is less than three-quarters full.
But school supporters say the province chose the historic building as a backdrop for its 2005 announcement of funding for a wide seismic mitigation program. Yet, more than a decade later Carleton remains unchanged.
“It’s really disheartening when you hear someone say we promise to do ‘X’ but nothing happens….at this point, maybe if I hold my breath, maybe my grandchildren will see it,” Wong said.
Tomorrow, the Vancouver School Board will release a list of schools that could face closure. Trustees say they may need to shutter up to 21 schools over the next 14 years.
Nobody from the VSB would say whether Carleton is on that list.