The Vancouver School Board is expected to present its Long Range Facilities Plan to the Vancouver Board of Education Facilities Committee tomorrow, which leaves the door open for the possible closing of 21 schools by 2030.
That proposal was included in its interim plan released in January, and VSB Chair Mike Lombardi says the earliest any school with students attending would close could be September 2017.
Lombardi says the plan has always been the potential closing 21 schools by 2030, but says no schools have been singled out for closure as yet.
“We do not have any idea. That is the superintendent’s responsibility, he will be looking at all of the information in the report. We know the capacity of the schools, what other schools are in the area. We know what kinds of programs are being offered there and we have a list of six or seven criteria that he will look at.”
However, a review of enrollment at Vancouver’s schools may provide some hints as to which could be on the chopping block. Most facilities under 85% capacity are on the city’s East Side, with the lowest capacity clustered in the Northeast.
Coming in at the low end are Admiral Seymour and Macdonald Elementary, at just 28% and 32% capacity respectively.
At the high end Tyee and Fraser Elementary are bursting at the seams, at 148% and 140% capacity respectively.
Lombardi adds that three annexes that won’t have students registered at them by September will be closed.
“The earliest that any other school could close with kids at it, that’s assuming there is a consideration or vote by the Board, would be September 2017.”
The VSB says three quarters of respondents to a recent Ipsos poll were supportive of any plan “selling or developing non-school sites” and that figure also in favour of “developing or selling a portion of school properties.”
That’s in order to bring enrollment up to 95% district wide – a provincial requirement in order to ensure the government’s covering the cost of seismic upgrades in schools.
A proposal to up class size numbers to balance the books has already been rejected.
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The plan now goes to a facilities committee May 18th, and then to a public board meeting next week.
Correction: An earlier draft of this story said three annexes will be sold by September, this version has been corrected to say they will be closed.