Reported by Melanie Green
Two South Vancouver schools have been spared the axe, at least for now.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School and Champlain Heights Annex were among 11 Vancouver schools being considered for closure, until the Vancouver School Board passed a controversial motion on Oct. 3 suspending the closure process.
The decision means 376 South Vancouver students will be allowed to remain in their schools.
Tom Wildon, whose three children attend Trudeau Elementary, said he was relieved the school will stay open for the time being.
“Trudeau is a community based school and it would really be a disservice to the community to lose it,” he said. “It’s hard with cutbacks. I would like to see all my kids graduate from Trudeau.”
Advocacy group says B.C. education needs better funding
Andrea Sinclair, who works with a grassroots collective committed to public education, said many parents feel B.C. education is underfunded, and their advocacy helped stall the school-closure process.
“If public education is truly public, then it needs to be funded,” said the Parental Advocacy Network spokesperson. “Parents have had enough and pushed back.”
The motion to suspend the closure process was contentious, with five trustees in support and four in opposition.
VSB trustee Penny Noble abstained from voting on the motion.
“We didn’t get to where we are lightly, folks. I feel as if we are throwing out months of work,” she said at the Oct. 3 meeting. “I am absolutely flabbergasted that we should be asked to come up and throw it all aside without further discussion.”
However VSB trustee Allan Wong, who supported the motion, said at the Oct. 3 meeting that recent changes to provincial education policies caused him to reconsider the school-closure issue.
“Eleven school closures, one school with over 1,000 students, we cannot take lightly. Just to say that we need to plough ahead without the proper information concerns me,” he said.
The VSB decision prohibits re-visitation of school closure until June 30, 2017.