Up to 12 Vancouver elementary schools and one high school could be on the chopping block, according to a staff report from the Vancouver School Board.
It proposes the ‘repurposing’ of a further eight schools to act as temporary accommodation for students during seismic upgrading.
The closures are being pitched in the The Interim Long Range Facilities Plan, and come the wake of a 2014 agreement between the VSB and the Province over seismic upgrading, requiring schools in the district to be enrolled to 95% capacity.
The Vancouver school district currently has an average enrollment of just under 85%.
VSB Chair Mike Lombardi says the plan is about getting the ball rolling when it comes to finishing the district’s sesimic upgrades.
“What the report is intended to do is to secure ministry of education funding so that we can do our seismic mitigation program so we can make our schools as safe as possible for our kids as quickly as possible.”
Lombardi stresses that so far, there have been no decisions made about closures and that the board would go to the public before making any final call.
“The [closure] policy is very clear and will involve vigorous community consultation.”
The report does not single out any specific schools for closure, but sets a timeline of 2030 for the district to both get enrollment up to 95% and to complete seismic upgrades on remaining schools.
A controversial 2015 audit by Ernst and Young had previously recommended Vancouver close up to 19 underutilized schools to improve the bottom line.
Lombardi says the plan will now go to a VSB committee this Wednesday, before the board makes a decision on the 25th about submitting it to the province.
He says after that, there will be five months of public consultation before an updated plan is drafted in June.