Our Future Community Project Charts a New Future for the VSB

Last night the Vancouver School Board released a massive report titled Vancouver School Board Sectoral Review: Our Schools, Our Programs, Our Future. The report presented dozens of important recommendations that if eventually adopted by the VSB, could have a profound impact on public education for Vancouver students.

“This is a comprehensive document that is intended to provide the Board with a foundational understanding of the challenges and opportunities of our district,” said Jordan Tinney, Deputy Superintendent. “There is a lot of information and suggestions here that could have a huge impact on the future of the Vancouver School Board. It’s a very exciting time to be involved in public education and we’re hoping many Vancouverites will get involved and lend their voice to this process.”

The report is well worth having a look at if you’re vaguely interested in the future directions of the Vancouver school district and the education of Vancouver youth. Key recommendations include:

  • To expand programs of choice. This could mean more Montessori, International Baccalaureate, Mandarin Bilingual, Intensive French and Early Intervention/Reading Recovery coming to a neighbourhood school near you… and soon.
  • To align services to avoid overlap. This could lead to brand new educational systems such as the centralization of kindergarten registration along with the implementation of both balanced calendar and hybrid semester systems in the coming few years. Balanced calendar alone would revolutionize how the school year looks (goodbye super long summer break…) for hundreds of students and their families.The report also suggests the reworking of some school catchment areas, the consolidation of VSB online learning and the optimization of the District’s Reception and Placement Centre and International Student Program.
  • Repurpose schools to continue to serve the public as a community asset and to demonstrate our stewardship of public lands. This is a big deal. The report outlines how some schools that are under-capicty (in some cases a little over half full!) should be re-purposed like was the case at Carelton Elementary, who is now the host of Green Thumb Theatre.
  • Develop non-school sites for revenue. Key here is international students. According to the report, these students pay a fee of $12,000 annually to attend our schools and they come from countries around the world. The income from the International Student Program represents approximately $12 million of the Boards budget. That’s a lot of money and its apparent from this report that district staff are hoping to grow this cash-pot in the coming years
There are a bunch of other interesting recommendations and all of them could have a big impact on what schools will look like in the coming years.
So far, the significance of this report has not been widely reported. But the ideas are there and the district is encouraging people to get involved and add their voice to a coming series of public consultations in the coming months or online through their Our Future website.