While the 12 Vancouver schools facing the possible axe have taken most of the spotlight today, education advocates say the problem extends far beyond the Lower Mainland.
Demonstrators gathered outside the Vancouver School Board to “mourn” the loss of schools across B.C.
Members of the Parents Advocacy Network reads the names of the more than 200 schools which have closed in the last 15 years, to the sound of a tolling bell.
Organzier Andrea Sinclair says the provincial government could’ve prevented many of the closures.
“When you look across the province at the 250 plus that have been closed, they’re not all due to enrollment issue, many of them are funding issues and boards having to make those really hard decisions when they have no other choice because the government is 95% of their funding revenue.”
She says the province needs to do more and take residents concerns seriously.
“Listen to your taxpayers. Listen to citizens who’ve said. Look at your funding model and consider how much money you’re putting in education. You can find the money if you make it a priority.”
She says school boards can not be blamed for closures when they do not get the support they need.
Wave of closures
Vancouver is not alone in facing hard choices and potential closures.
Neighbourhing Richmond is also looking at shuttering up to 16 schools, including at least one offering French immersion. Residents there have also launched petitions and protests.
Earlier this spring, the Okanagan Similkameen school board voted to close Osoyoos’ only high school, and bus students to nearby Oliver.
That’s touched off a potential lawsuit and pledges from the city to open its own independent school.
Nanaimo also closed two schools late last year, and Campbell River is also looking at shuttering two.
Earlier this month, the province announced a ‘Rural Education Enhancement Fund’ designed to keep schools in small towns by giving small communities funding equal to the savings realized by closing a school.