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District works to determine process for renaming school facilities

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Many Vancouver School District schools and facilities received names of prominent historical figures of the time they were built. The legacies of some of these historical figures may no longer align with the values of school communities today. The District also recognizes that discussion and conversations regarding renaming a school can trigger strong emotions. 

In October 2018, a Naming and Renaming Working Group formed to review the process that guides the naming of new facilities and the renaming of existing facilities. An update to the process for naming new facilities came into effect in June 2019. The working group then met over the 2019-20 school year to focus on updating the process surrounding renaming existing facilities.

In the fall of 2020, District staff presented a report to the Policy and Governance Committee which outlines proposed revisions to the process of renaming existing school facilities. Staff also proposed a pilot of the draft revisions in consideration of renaming Matthew Begbie Elementary and David Lloyd George Elementary. They chose these schools because Begbie Elementary and David Lloyd George Elementary are currently undergoing seismic replacement.

The District is committed to following a clear, transparent, inquiry-based process where historical names can be reviewed and considered for possible change. According to the draft revisions, the process toward potential renaming can begin one of three ways: if a school has been approved and funded for a full replacement as part of the Seismic Mitigation Program, if the school community brings forward a request, or if the Board passes a motion requesting review of a school name.

In the proposed revisions to the renaming process, the first phase of reviewing the name of a school involves an ad hoc working group. The group includes District staff, representatives from the teachers’ association, and other District stakeholders.

The group gathers information on the namesake of the school and thoughts from the school community. They send this data to the Facilities Planning Committee. The Facilities Planning Committee, made up of trustees and stakeholder representatives, may then make a recommendation to the Board. The Board determines whether a school re-naming process moves forward based on the report and recommendation received.

The process of selecting a new school name only begins after the decision has been made to rename the school.

In November 2020, members of the ad hoc committees for Begbie Elementary and David Lloyd George Elementary met virtually to start the process of review, including compiling research on who Matthew Begbie and David Lloyd George were. This included information on the namesakes’ connection to Canada, BC, and/or Vancouver, their connection to Indigenous communities in Canada, whether they had a connection to education, their primary legacies, and the feeling among the school communities about the possibility of a name change. The gathering of this information intends to inform decision-making before determination of whether or not to move forward with pursuing the renaming of the schools.

As per the draft administrative procedure on renaming facilities, the Facilities Planning Committee will review the information on the pilot involving Begbie Elementary and David Lloyd George Elementary at the committee’s meeting on January 13, 2021. Should committee members agree, the committee will make a recommendation for the Board’s consideration.

Agenda for the Facilities Planning Committee on January 13, 2021

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