Most people are aware that in SD 38 we have a problem with our school buildings. The problem, simply put, is that we have a lot more space than students, and eventually the Board of Education has to make some decisions about which schools to close. The decline in enrollment is a provincial trend, and our demographics say fewer and fewer young families with children are able to afford to live in Richmond.
The percentage of children going to private schools has held steady over the years at around 13%, but the overall number of school-age children in Richmond is declining.
To add to the challenge, over 20 of our schools are at risk of having major structural damage if there happens to be an earthquake.
When will final decisions be made? The diagram above shows the time frames we’re using. The first thing to note is that no decision will be implemented by September 2016. By September 2017 some schools may be closed, and others may be used temporarily while others are having seismic upgrades. It may take several years to implement the decisions coming out of our current facilities review.
Here are some of the questions/comments we’ve already gotten from the community and our employees when we describe the issue:
- How much does it cost to run a school?
- Have you considered sharing your school space with community agencies?
- Will kids still be able to walk to school?
- Whatever you decide, do it quickly so people won’t change schools due to rumours.
- Make sure people know the decision isn’t made yet to minimize rumours
- What’s the best size for an elementary school? Isn’t 600 students too big?
You probably have questions too. The big question most people probably have is, “Will this affect my school?”
It’s too early to say, as no decisions have been made. To help employees and the community get a sense of the scope of the issue, the Board of Education is hosting a series of Open Houses to answer questions and give people a chance to give input on the criteria Trustees will eventually have to use to make these difficult decisions about closing up to five or six of our schools.
The figures you see here are a preview of some of the storyboards we’ll be using at the open houses to help explain the situation. If you want to take a closer look, just click on them.
The Open Houses are in response to a survey on our “Let’s Talk” website http://letstalksd38.ca/our-schools-our-students-our-future. Results were largely in favour of holding information sessions at schools to engage the community. As a result, the Board has scheduled a number of open houses from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at secondary schools across the city:
- Thursday, October 15, 2015 – Richmond Secondary, Theatre room
- Tuesday, October 20, 2015 – Burnett Secondary, Multi-purpose room
- Thursday, October 22, 2015 – McNair Secondary, Gym
- Tuesday, October 27, 2015 – McMath Secondary, Gym
- Thursday, October 29, 2015 – Cambie Secondary, Gym
We’re looking forward to seeing you at one of our five open house meetings. Please come by to learn more, ask questions and give your input on criteria for Trustees to use when considering closing schools.