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Vancouver School Board rejects province’s proposal to address funding shortfall

The Vancouver School Board has rejected a Ministry of Education proposal to partially address the board's $21.8-million shortfall by selling the Kingsgate Mall.
The Vancouver School Board has rejected a Ministry of Education proposal to partially address the board's $21.8-million shortfall by selling the Kingsgate Mall. Global News

The Vancouver School Board has rejected a Ministry of Education proposal to partially address the board’s $21.8-million shortfall by selling the Kingsgate Mall.

The board, which owns the land the mall sits on, rejected the plan, saying it “did not include any additional provincial funding.”

The move came hours before the board is legally required to balance its books and the board now risks being fired.

“Trustees have rejected this ministry proposal because it did not offer adequate, stable, predictable funding to eliminate the 2016-17 shortfall and could potentially worsen future operational shortfalls,” VSB Chair Mike Lombardi said in a statement.

“From my perspective, to suggest that we start selling off capital assets to fund operating is a very short-sighted approach,” trustee Patti Bacchus said. “We simply can’t do that.”

READ MORE: Vancouver School Board lists 12 schools for potential closure

Education Minister Mike Bernier said in a statement:

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“Our offer was a simple one – we gave them the go-ahead to sell Kingsgate Mall and put the proceeds back into education services. We backed that up with a guarantee of almost $6 million in exchange for a small ownership share in the mall if the sale does not happen in the next school year. Either option would have made sure the budget was balanced in Vancouver.

“This proposal gave them the time and the resources they needed to avoid cuts, and they chose to reject that.”

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