PAN is not suggesting that school facilities should never be adjusted to meet changing demographics. They should. However, underfunding, poor legislation, and austerity constraints around seismic upgrading have created a situation in Vancouver in which the school board is being forced to make poor, short-sighted decisions that will seriously compromise its ability to provide equitable access to quality public education for all children. Unreasonable demands by the provincial government are preventing the VSB from pursuing alternative ways of reducing surplus capacity that not only attend to the diverse educational needs of all learners, but preserve the progressive legacy of neighbourhood schooling for current and future generations.
The government has an opportunity through the seismic mitigation process to address surplus capacity in a way that provides safe, appropriately sized neighbourhood schools that will meet the needs of current and future Vancouver public school children. Instead, the provincial government is manufacturing a crisis of surplus space, using a harmful capacity target to reduce its obligation to seismically upgrade all schools, and deflecting attention away from the real crisis, which is the inadequate and unsustainable levels of funding allocated to school Districts under the current funding model.
We call on the government once again to implement the recommendations of its own Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services: