Detailed administrative reports on schools proposed for closure presented to trustees

As part of its long range facilities planning, VSB staff have submitted detailed reports to the Board of Trustees about the schools on the preliminary list that might be considered for closure before the start of the 2017-18 school year. The trustees will now review these reports, and at a board meeting on September 26, will decide whether some or any of the schools on the preliminary list should be considered for closure.

The list of 12 schools was presented to the Board in June 2016, and these administrative reports, along with an overview report titled "Strategic Report: Potential School Closures," have been submitted as required by VSB policy and conforming to the School Act. If the Board decides to consider those schools for closure, consultation with affected school communities would commence in October and continue through November. In December trustees will decide whether any schools will be closed.

Following the submission of the Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP), where the public provided extensive input on priorities for school facilities, VSB's facilities planners reviewed all 110 VSB schools based on the factors for consideration identified in the LRFP. Then, in collaboration with district educators, they examined the impact of a closure on educational programs, student needs and learning. The preliminary list of schools that might be considered for closure was the result of that process.

Staff has now developed reports, which will provide trustees, the school community, and the public with detailed information to support discussion, consultation, and decision making. These administrative reports include:

  • Explanation of the process for identification of the school for inclusion on the preliminary list
  • Information about the school being considered for closure and the school(s) that would receive students, including: location; enrolment history and projections; operating capacity and utilization; vulnerability of current school population; geographical considerations; building condition; seismic rating; school site considerations; potential to use the school for temporary accommodation; and other details
  • Review and assessment of LRFP school closure implementation considerations
  • Implication of closing that school for the seismic mitigation program
  • Financial implications of closing that school
  • Implementation considerations if that school is closed

"We will closely review these administrative reports to better understand the situation at each of the schools," said Mike Lombardi, Chair of the Vancouver School Board. "No decisions have been made yet. After looking at all the information in these detailed reports, trustees will decide whether to proceed with any potential closures and, if so, begin significant consultation with affected communities in October and November before making any decisions."

Members of the public can learn more about VSB long range facilities planning and public consultations related to school closures at engage.vsb.bc.ca.

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

Backgrounder - Process and Timing for Proposed Closures

Facilities planners reviewed all 110 VSB schools based on level one and level two factors for consideration in closing schools as identified in the Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP). Those factors include:

  • Ability to accommodate students in one or two nearby school(s)
  • Building condition and deferred maintenance
  • Expediting the seismic mitigation program by using a closed school as swing space for temporary accommodation of students and staff from nearby schools set for seismic upgrades
  • Current enrolment and future projections
  • Assessment of walk distances, transportation routes and catchment sizes for newly created catchments
  • Geographical and site considerations, such as major roadways
  • Opportunities to consolidate communities and advocate for building a new school
  • Cost savings from not operating buildings that could be applied to alleviate projected 2017-18 budget shortfalls and educational programs
  • Education and social impacts on students and families, particularly where there are high concentrations of vulnerable students

In collaboration with district educators, staff further examined the impact on educational programs, student needs and learning.

This preliminary list of schools represents those where we have the ability to keep communities together as much as possible with fewer impacts on further change.

VSB staff have submitted detailed reports to the Board of Trustees about the schools on the preliminary list, along with an overview strategy report. Trustees review the reports at a joint meeting of Committee II (Planning & Facilities) and III (Education & Student Services) on September 15. At the September 26 public meeting of the Board, trustees decide which, if any schools on the preliminary list will be considered for closure.

If the trustees approve moving forward with the closure process for one or more schools on this list, schools affected by a potential closure are notified, and provided with a timeline for upcoming public information and feedback meetings. Consultation with affected communities would begin in October, with online feedback opening October 11. Information will  be available at engage.vsb.bc.ca.

Third-party facilitators will write a detailed report summarizing information collected from meetings and online consultation which will be submitted to trustees for review and consideration.

At their December 12 public Board meeting, trustees decide which, if any, schools considered for closure will be approved for closure. VSB staff will work then with the school communities to develop an implementation plan. If approved by the Board, the earliest any school closures would take effect is June 30, 2017 (for the 2017-18 school year).

Consultation Timeline Overview

Fact Sheet - VSB costs related to maintenance

  • The average age of VSB schools is 73 years, with 50 schools older than 80 years.
  • Maintenance has been deferred for many years on VSB schools, leaving more than $700 million in outstanding maintenance costs for major building components such as roofs, fire alarm systems, heating systems, flooring, interior finishes, plumbing, lighting and exterior windows.
  • The average cost of deferred maintenance on VSB schools is nearly equal to half the cost of building a new replacement school.
  • In Vancouver 21 schools have been seismically upgraded so far and 68 require mitigation work, including four currently in construction, four in design development, two pending approval, 21 approved for feasibility studies and 37 that have not received approval to begin a feasibility study.
  • $62.5 million - 12.6% of VSB's operating budget - goes on building operations and maintenance.
  • Among large BC school districts, Vancouver spends the most, more than $1,100 per student, on operations and maintenance.
  • Including staff, utilities, maintenance and custodial supply costs, each year the costs for running district facilities are, on average, $248,000 for an annex, $632,000 for an elementary school and $1,955,000 for a secondary school.
  • At this point, no decisions on closure have been made. If trustees decided to close a school, it would provide one-time savings in deferred maintenance costs of, on average, $1.9 million per annex, $3.9 million per elementary, and $16.9 million per secondary school.
  • If trustees decided to close a school, it would avoid one-time seismic upgrading costs of $8-16 million for an elementary school and $30-60 million for a secondary school.

Backgrounder - Temporary Accommodation

Temporary accommodation is when available space in a school or schools is used to accommodate staff and students whose school is undergoing seismic upgrading or replacement.

The use of temporary accommodation has proven to be an effective strategy as part of the implementation of several recent and current seismic projects.

In some cases, VSB may need to make use of entire school buildings in order to provide space for students and staff in schools undergoing construction. Excess space or capacity in schools with lower enrolment can also be used to accommodate students and staff whose schools are being upgraded. Different strategies will need to be used in combination to ensure schools can be upgraded as quickly as possible.

VSB is currently using two temporary accommodation sites (South Hill and Queen Elizabeth). As many as an additional 3,500 student seats may be required to implement the Seismic Mitigation Program timeline, completing seismic upgrades by 2030. This could result in the need for the equivalent of up to eight additional temporary accommodation sites (six elementary, two secondary).

The BC Ministry of Education requires districts to make use of existing surplus capacity to provide temporary accommodation.

In the event that an entire school site is needed for temporary accommodation, it would first need to be closed. A closed school which is being used to provide temporary accommodations would not count toward calculations of district capacity.

If a school is closed and then used for temporary accommodation, it can often house an entire school population during seismic upgrade. That site could be used many times for temporary accommodation as the seismic upgrading continues over the next decade. 

FAQs on Administrative Reports

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