VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — B.C.’s minister of education has some good news for school districts: they won’t have to prove their school is at capacity in order to stop it from being closed.
Rob Fleming penned a letter to school districts Friday to say the province will no longer place an emphasis on whether or not schools are at or under capacity when school boards applying for funding — information they have to submit as part of the ministry’s previous guidelines for making long-range plans.
BREAKING NEWS: BC's minister of education @Rob_Fleming is taking pressure off school districts pondering closures. He says school districts are no longer required to produce long-range plans detailing under-capacity schools – which had put them at risk of closure @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/JQhuxvYb0Q
— Renee Bernard (@Renee1130) April 13, 2019
Previously, schools had to prove to the province — through the Long-Range Facilities Plans (LRFP) — that they are maximizing school resources and space.
“We are changing the guidelines for drafting LRFPs to speed up the planning process, so we can focus on investing in students and schools,” he writes in the letter. “We have already removed the old government’s 95% utilization requirement, and now I’m pleased to announce we are making even more changes to give school boards more flexibility and autonomy.”
Fleming says the ministry’s guidelines will no longer use terms like “mandatory” or “requirements” when referring to capacity.
Instead, schools will use LRFPs as a guide to help them make decisions on how to best use school resources.
“To help you manage your existing facilities and allow school facilities to play a larger role in the community, LRFPs should have a much broader focus than just enrolment (sic) and capacity utilization,” Fleming writes. “LRFPs should emphasize potential changes to programming to support the natural movement of students, analyzing changing demographics to neighbourhoods, and account for other important facility uses such as childcare, before-and-after school care, and community uses of school buildings.”
The Vancouver school district is in the midst of reviewing its long term plan – which includes several schools at risk because they are under-capacity.