Should the cash-strapped Vancouver School Board sell off lands and close schools to save money?
That could be the direction the district goes, following its response to a controversial audit ordered by the provincial government.
The board passed its response to the 62 recommendations in a vote split down party lines.
Among the recommendations agreed to — looking for revenue potential from surplus properties (either through sale or lease), and keeping a keen eye on ways to generate cash from empty schools.
The board also agreed to consider studying the goal of ensuring all schools are 95% full, as well as looking at the “criteria and process to be followed in identifying schools that may be closed / re purposed” if the board were to approve a capital rationalization plan.
The board disagreed with the auditors on the timing of any closures, responding the timeline for any such process should be based on the district’s own long range planning.
Chair and NPA representative Fraser Ballantyne says the response is a representative one.
“We all had input on it, we came to conclusions that is going to be at the benefit of the community at large”
But Vision Vancouver’s Patti Bacchus said the response didn’t go far enough, saying it was too focused on the bottom line.
“Our main concern’s with the response was the lack of consideration of what’s best for students and what’s best for communities. I heard very strongly from our district parent council and other speakers that we should not be selling off school lands. We need to keep those school lands for future generations”
The response was approved 5-4, with the NPA and the Green member voting for and Vision Vancouver voting against.