As Vancouver grapples with whether to close schools to save cash, neighbouring Richmond is dealing with the same problem.
Twenty-one schools in Richmond are vulnerable to structural failure in the event of an earthquake.
But the province won’t pay for seismic upgrades unless school boards fill classrooms to 95 percent capacity.
School board chair Debbie Tablotney says up to five elementary schools could be on the chopping block.
“To have those schools safe is always our number one focus, the safety of our students. The trustees are faced with a dilemma to have those schools and have the funding to upgrade those schools. We have to work with the Ministry of Education.”
A final decision on the closures is set to be made by September.
“There are more people in the downtown core, more high rises, and so the downtown core is exploding, and that is where we are going to need a school, and in our outlying areas, we have under-capacity.”
Meanwhile, the Vancouver School Board is working on its long-range facilities plan, which must be submitted to the province by the end of the month.
An Ernst and Young report earlier this year recommended Vancouver close up to 19 underused schools to improve the bottom line.