The Vancouver School Board’s plan to possibly close down 13 schools in an attempt to secure long-awaited seismic upgrades for dozens of others has received mixed response. B.C.’s Education Ministry has asserted that the provincial funding for upgrades of other schools hinges on Vancouver schools reaching 95 per cent enrolment capacity but currently the number at about 85 per cent.
The target of 95 per cent enrolment capacity can be achieved by closing as many as 12 elementary schools and one secondary school. In his remarks, board chair Mike Lombardi stated that “the hope is to get schools seismically upgraded so kids can be in safe buildings,” adding that “but we also need to do it in a responsible way that takes into account what the parents and the community are telling us.” The VSB assured that no closure would take place any time before June 2017.
There are currently 69 schools in Vancouver that are considered at high-risk of sustaining damage in an earthquake. The board is set to vote on the report Monday, and it has to be submitted to the B.C. government by the end of the January. In case the province signs off on the plan, Lombardi claimed that “what we’re going to do is sit down, look at all the new demographic data, all the enrolment data, and make decisions along the way.” He added that “any decision to close a school or use it for temporary upgrading will be made in consultation with parents.”
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