Vancouver rejects B.C. recommendation to sell schools

Selling school assets has been going on for decades and needs to stop commercializing public assets for a profit. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. Hey, I know why don’t we use them to house the Syrian refugees. School properties are public assets. Click here to learn more or read an excerpt below.

Amidst ongoing budgetary issues and pressure from the provincial government to sell off assets, the Vancouver School Board fired back by passing a motion to reject selling school properties.

Green trustee Janet Fraser introduced the motion that passed on Oct. 13 by a vote of 5-4, with the support of Vision trustees, while Non-Partisan Association trustees voted against.

The suggestion to sell school properties came from a B.C. government released audit from Ernst & Young back in June that suggested the VSB could generate up to $750 million by selling 19 school properties, and that this would produce additional savings of $72 million a year in reduced costs.

The audit states that in the 2014/2015 school year there were 10,387 surplus seats in the region.

“We could get some short-term financial gains by selling lands but I don’t think that will address the long terms needs of the school board,” said Fraser.

“We need to have land in the future, we don’t know where our students will be and I would like trustees in the future to be able to provide for our future students.”

Trustee Patti Bacchus voted in favour of the motion and said that while there are currently surplus spaces, these spaces can be utilized as swing space for schools being renovated or undergoing seismic upgrades in the future. She also said that there are options to lease the surplus space, allowing the board to keep ownership of the land so it could be used in the future while also generating funds.

“We don’t need to be selling off school lands, I think that’s incredibly short sighted so I’m very pleased that this motion provides some assurance to communities that we’re not going to be selling off school lands to plug the holes in the budget created by government underfunding,” said Bacchus.

The Ministry of Education released a statement in response, saying, “We feel the vote was premature and it does not help board staff create the long-term facilities plan the district is developing.

“Parents expect everyone in the education system to ensure resources support students — not empty seats or maintaining empty schools.”

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