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Carleton School community moves to Cunningham Elementary for 2016-17 school year

Vancouver - (August 26, 2016) - Vancouver School Board staff have been working for the past week to determine the best solution for back to school for students and staff at Carleton Elementary.

A four-alarm fire in the main brick building on the evening of Friday August 19, 2016, and the water needed to fight the blaze, caused extensive damage to the building and its contents, including the steam plant that supplies heat to the brick building, gym and wooden building on site.

With no guarantee that power, heat and other life safety services could be restored to those buildings in time for staff and students to begin school, VSB has decided to move the Carleton population to neighbouring Cunningham Elementary for the 2016-17 school year.

"We heard parents and staff express their desire to stay together following this traumatic event. With some rearranging of classrooms the entire population of Carleton can be accommodated at Cunningham Elementary," said VSB superintendent Scott Robinson. "I appreciate the tireless work of VSB staff and the Carleton and Cunningham communities coming together to work through this difficult issue."

Carleton will continue to operate as its own school, hosted on the Cunningham site, with its own principal, teachers and staff.

In order to provide the least disruption possible to education and programs, it is expected the move will be for the 2016-17 school year.

Parents will receive more communications about confirming registration at Carleton next week. Both email and in-person opportunities will be available. The district will also make every effort to accommodate families who choose to send their child to their original catchment or neighbouring school.

"The board would like to thank the Superintendent and VSB team for working through this complex process and finding a creative solution to maintain safety, educational opportunities and community for Carleton students, families and staff after this devastating event," said VSB Chair Mike Lombardi. "We're also grateful to the Carleton and Cunningham communities and look forward to the start of a good school year next week."

For media inquiries contact:  communications@vsb.bc.ca

Backgrounder

Sir Guy Carleton Elementary fire

  • Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services was called to deal with a four-alarm blaze at Sir Guy Carleton Elementary on Friday, August 19, 2016.
  • The fire started on the third floor at about 7 p.m. and spread to the attic, where it was contained.
  • At least 50 firefighters were involved in battling the blaze into the night. Vancouver School Board is grateful for their efforts and that no one was seriously injured.
  • The cause of the fire is being investigated by Vancouver Police Department.
  • The fire caused extensive smoke and water damage to all areas of the school.
  • There are two major school buildings on the site and a gym.
  • The full extent of the damage to the main brick building is still being assessed, but it is not operational and cannot be used without extensive remediation and restoration.
  • Rooms containing mechanical and electrical equipment were flooded as fire fighters worked to bring the fire under control. The equipment in those rooms provided heat and power to a wood building on the school site that has eight classrooms and the gymnasium.
  • Senior staff from all departments are working with inspectors, restoration workers, health and safety professionals and the Ministry of Education to determine what would be required to restore Carleton Elementary to operational use.
  • The biggest priority of VSB is to ensure safety for staff and students while providing the least disruption possible to education with a fast approaching return to school.
  • At this time, there is no guarantee that heat and power could be restored to the main building, wooden building or gym in time to allow a smooth transition for students and staff.
  • Even if the wood building could be operational, it does not have space to accommodate all students at Carleton Elementary.
  • Following this traumatic event, VSB heard from students, parents and staff that the community at Carleton Elementary wanted to be kept together.
  • The district wants to provide certainty to the Carleton community about the start of the school year. 
  • In reviewing the options, the district determined that with some reorganization there was room in neighbouring Cunningham Elementary to accommodate all of the Carleton classes.
  • The move to Cunningham Elementary is not a merger of the two schools, but two schools operating from one site. Carleton and Cunningham Elementary will continue to be staffed and run as separate schools.
  • Families who choose to send students to their original catchment school or neighbouring school will be accommodated.
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