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B.C. gov't pushes back at Vancouver School Board as parents struggle with lottery system

Last Updated Feb 27, 2020 at 5:58 am PDT

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Summary

The province is pushing back at the VSB as some parents struggle with what's next after recent placement lottery system

B.C.'s education minister says the VSB still hasn't shared any long-range plan with the province

Rob Fleming says the problem is shifting density, and adds the province is willing to work with the VSB

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Parents in Vancouver, especially those downtown, whose kids lost out on neighbourhood schools in the recent placement lottery are still trying to figure out where their children will go come September.

And while they scramble to figure out a plan, the provincial government is pointing the finger of blame at the school board.

“We had asked them to do a long range facilities plan, they have never submitted one,” Education Minister Rob Fleming said.

He claimed the Vancouver School Board only made the Olympic Village School a priority, and put it on the province’s plate six months ago.

“Vancouver’s unique in the province’s 10,000 empty school seats today,” he said. “We’ve asked them to help us with a growing francophone public school population. They had an opportunity to do something unique that would have advanced, for example, the Olympic Village school construction. Unfortunately, they took a decision not to do that at this time.”

Fleming added the province’s door remains open, and said he hopes it can work with the VSB on longterm planning accounting for changing density.

“We don’t ask them to submit [their long range plan] to us as a ministry requirement. We ask them to submit it as something that makes them transparent and accountable to their own parents and citizens.”

Parents who lost out on their schools of choice in the placement lottery will either have to seek out spots at another school — sometimes one that is farther away — look at independent schools as an option, or send their children to out-of-catchment schools. These types of lotteries are held when schools don’t have enough spaces to accommodate all the children looking to attend there.

“We’re here to listen, we’ve offered some solutions and they declined,” Fleming said. “We want to work with the Vancouver School Board on resolving two problems at once. Francophone, french school district kids who are in crowded, insufficient school facilities. And help grow areas like False Creek.”

Some families who are now in limbo because they lost out on the placement lottery have cited before and after school care as a concern. There are parents who have added they’re not sure where to even start, seeing as where their children will attend come September is still up in the air.