Vision Vancouver School Board names potential school closures
Last night the Vancouver School Board approved a balanced budget for the 2010/11 school year. The Board released the names of six elementary schools and six school annexes that will be part of a six-month consultation process that will consider potential school closures for June 2011.
In order to balance the budget, the board was required to approve significant cuts to staffing and services for students due to a $17.23 million shortfall in provincial funding. We approved these cuts with a heavy heart under the direction of the Minister of Education to file a balanced budget and to take further measures to reduce school district costs. It is a difficult task to pass a budget that does not reflect the values or visions of our trustees, but rather the Minister’s priority of financial restraint over the needs of children and families. We do, however, look forward with optimism that this budget is not an end, but a beginning.
Your Vision Vancouver School Trustees have been working alongside COPE to advocate for the province to fully fund the increases that it negotiates on school districts’ behalf. These increases include salary, pension and benefit increases in addition to other provincially increased or new costs such as MSP premiums and the new carbon emission report and offset purchase requirements. We believe the VSB’s challenges from the Minister of Education reflect the need for public discussion about the challenges affecting not just the VSB, but all school districts in BC: chronic provincial underfunding of public education. With the support of strong advocacy efforts from our students and parents, the work of our board clearly captured the provincial government’s attention. This led to wider public awareness and a call for solutions to the challenges faced by our world-class public school system.
When we ran for office, we promised electors that we would be strong advocates for our public education system and that we would work tirelessly to ensure that our schools are staffed and equipped to meet the needs of all students. We will continue that work and we remain committed to supporting and strengthening Vancouver’s public schools.
On behalf Vision Vancouver School Trustees Mike Lombardi, Sharon Gregson, Ken Clement and myself, I want to thank you for your continued support of this board during this very challenging time.
Chair, Vancouver School Board