Vancouver Board of Education to Review EY Special Advisor Report

Board & Committees, Schools & Students

Media Release

Vancouver Board of Education to Review EY Special Advisor Report

Vancouver – (June 9, 2015) – The Vancouver Board of Education’s (VBE) Chairperson Christopher Richardson was given a high-level briefing of the findings and recommendations of the EY (formerly Ernst & Young) report, commissioned by the BC Ministry of Education, last night before its scheduled public release today.

In March of 2015, the BC Ministry of Education appointed a special advisor from EY to conduct a review of the VBE’s budget development and forecasting, accumulated surpluses, capital asset management, and opportunities for administrative savings and board governance. According to the Ministry, the purpose of the review was to examine the VBE’s fiscal forecasts for the next three years, as well as the 10-year history of finances, administrative efficiencies, school capacity and utilization rates.

The Board had asked to receive a full briefing by the EY special advisor. However, only Richardson was verbally briefed by the Minister, senior Ministry staff and EY representatives on the highlights of the report last night.*

The Board was not given a copy of the report and expects to receive it this morning at the same time as its public release. 

“We are interested in reviewing all of the findings and recommendations of the EY report, which will take some time,” said Richardson. “The report is extensive at 225 pages and will require careful consideration.”

Richardson said that the Board is committed to providing quality public education for all students within a financially sustainable environment. The Board has developed a balanced provisional budget for 2015/2016 based on stakeholder consultation. A separate review recently completed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for the VBE suggested that the Board’s fiscal planning and resource allocation is well managed and on track to achieve this balanced budget for the upcoming school year. The VBE’s budgeting process is similar to those processes used among BC’s public school districts.

Richardson added that despite the progress made by the VBE in terms of its fiscal management as indicated in the recent PwC report, the Board has a responsibility to carefully consider the 52 findings and 59 recommendations in the EY report. “We know that some of the recommendations in the EY report could have significant implications for our students and their families, as well as our teachers, support staff and other frontline workers,” he said. “As an elected board, it is our duty to carefully assess those impacts first.”

The VBE’s provisional 2015/2016 budget must be finalized and will be submitted to the Ministry by the end of June. Prior to adopting the budget, the Board will review and consider the findings of the EY report.

Richardson emphasized that the Board has made no decisions at this time with respect to recommendations contained in the EY report, and that VBE staff will provide an analysis of these in a report for the Board’s consideration.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Ministry to deliver high quality public education to students across Vancouver,” added Richardson.  

A copy of the EY Report is available here: http://govsb.ca/EYreport2015 

A copy of the EY Executive Summary is available here: http://govsb.ca/ey-exec-summary-2015

A copy of the recent PwC report is available at: Vancouver School Board Resource Allocation Review 2015 

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*I was offered, and accepted with the full knowledge of all the trustees, a private meeting by former Education Minister, Peter Fassbender, the evening of Monday, June 8th, 2015. The purpose of this 45-minute briefing was to enable me to personally brief the entire Board at a private in-camera session scheduled later that evening to discuss the report of the Special Advisor.

To enable me to focus on listening to and seeking clarification during the verbal briefing, the Minister offered an “embargoed copy” of the report for the sole purpose of allowing me to make handwritten notes regarding the Special Advisor’s Report in the preparation of the in-camera session.

Upon conclusion of the briefing, I immediately proceeded to a secluded meeting room at the offices of the Vancouver Board of Education (VBE) to make my notes. Upon completion of this process, I entrusted the embargoed report to a senior official of the VBE with the explicit instructions that it be locked-up until after the report was released to the public, the next morning at 11AM. I did not provide, at any time, the embargoed report copy to another trustee or any other person.

*This clarification, provided by Trustee Christopher Richardson on October 5, 2015, is pursuant to the Vancouver Board of Education motion dated September 28, 2015 regarding the media release pertaining to the release of the report of the Special Advisor.