The Vancouver School Board released the names of 12 schools that could close to make up a $27M budget deficit – eleven of which are in East Van. This is a preliminary list, according to School Board Chairman Lombardi, so whoever makes the most noise gets to stay.

This is part of a larger, School Board-approved plan to possibly close up to 21 schools throughout the city. More information from the Vancouver Sun here.

On the block

Interestingly, the Daily Scot posted about a similar piece in May, with a focus on the purported relationship between neighbourhood unit vacancy and school closures.

As happens a lot in Vancouver, the city was quick to finger the Province as the primary culprit, citing new seismic and minimum-occupancy regulations from Victoria that will force the closures. As also happens a lot, the Province blames the City for not doing enough to meet these occupancy minimums and forcing the Province’s hand.

But it is the job of BC Education Minister, Mike Bernier, to put a ‘glass half full’ spin on the situation, which he has. After referring to a 2015 Ernst and Young report suggesting that closing 19 schools could save $37M per year, he then channels George Orwell:

“I look at that and say, ‘Imagine if I was a parent in Vancouver: What would $37-million a year in Vancouver buy?’” Mr. Bernier told a news conference on Monday. “How many instructional teachers, support teachers, programs? What could you do with $37-million?”

Education Minister Mike Bernier (Globe and Mail) 

“Amalgamation offers parents in Vancouver more, not less. A school with more students is one that can offer more and better programs. It means access to sports and music programs that many under-capacity schools just don’t have.”

If he actually believes that the closure of 19 schools will ‘free up’ $37M for the remaining schools – after closing the $25M+ funding deficit – then he knows shockingly little about the actual management of budgets for a person of his position. What it means is $37M less for Vancouver schools, because now they don’t need it. That’s how budgets work.

Less is not More. Freedom is not Slavery. Ignorance is not Strength. And that spat of white viscous material that just landed on your scalp? Don’t believe the Education Minister when he tells you with a straight face that it’s sunshine, because that’s not how pigeons operate.