Mayor Gregor Robertson joined School Board Chair Patti Bacchus and members of the Vision Vancouver school board team this morning to release their school board platform, and highlight what’s at stake for public schools on November 15.
"Last week Kirk LaPointe and the NPA put out a disturbing vision for our public schools that included a promise to accept Chevron’s offer to fund and influence classroom programs in our schools,” said Bacchus. “That’s the wrong direction for education. Our school board platform puts kids first. We want to continue our work, supporting stronger schools, standing up for public education and making our school district an environmental leader."
Vision Vancouver’s platform for schools includes continued advocacy with the province to fund needed infrastructure, a commitment to building new child care spaces, as well as more money for feeding kids and school diversity programs.
“The Vision School Board team has provided strong, progressive leadership for public education in Vancouver,” said Mayor Robertson. “They’ve kept our schools open in the face of funding cuts, delivered on new child care spaces, and supported our Greenest City goals. The fact that Kirk LaPointe and the NPA want to open up our classrooms to corporate funding from Chevron shows what is at risk in this election.”
“With 19 days to go, the NPA’s Kirk LaPointe has yet to release an environmental platform, yet he’s standing side by side with his school trustees saying we should open up our schools to Chevron,” added Bacchus. “Voters need to be aware of the clear choice they have on November 15th. With Vision, we have a clear platform to support public education, build more child care, and continue our greenest city work. With the NPA, that is all at risk.”
Over the next four years, a Vision School Board will:
- Partner with a Vision Council, who will invest $400,000 a year to directly reduce child hunger by doubling the Vancouver School Board’s Breakfast Programs. We will enhance and expand the Breakfast Programs, ensuring they have stable, long-term funding, and doubling its reach to 1,300 kids a day.
- Work with other levels of government on longer-term solutions to reduce child poverty in our city, including expanding the ‘enhanced support’ model that provides an integrated, place-based support system for children and youth most affected by poverty.
- Commit to building childcare centres in every school getting a seismic retrofit, and work with our partners to increase the available spaces for kids in the neighbourhoods where families live.
- Advocate for the BC government to live up to former Premier Gordon Campbell’s commitment to fully fund seismic upgrades for BC schools by 2020.
- Work to maintain and restore the ratio of specialist teachers -- including school librarians, counselors, psychologists, learning assistance and English language learning (ELL) teachers -- in Vancouver schools.
- Continue to advocate to the BC government to fast-track new school construction for International Village, Coal Harbour and Olympic Village, so that students who live in Downtown Vancouver can actually go to school there.
- Continue to work to improve academic and program options, with strong neighbourhood schools for Vancouver students, and work hard to protect learning opportunities currently at risk from budget cuts at the provincial level.
- Continue to uphold the VSB’s policy on limiting corporate sponsorship in our schools.
- Work with parents, local community organizations and the BC government to help raise funds for more modern, accessible playgrounds on elementary school properties in Vancouver.
- Continue with implementation of equity policies that support diversity, safety and respect for all students, staff and families that together make up our public school system.
- Build on Vancouver’s Year of Reconciliation by providing teachers and schools with resources to infuse programs, curriculum and events in Vancouver with historical and cultural content that supports a deeper understanding by all students, teachers and staff of the history of Vancouver and the First Nations whose unceded lands we share.
- Work closely with our community partners to look at alternate public uses of underutilized school properties, such as the partnership with Green Thumb Theatre for a 20-year lease at Carleton Elementary, in order to keep these valuable public school assets in public hands.
- Continue to strive to meet the needs of all of our students, from Kindergarteners through to adult learning programs. We will also work on increased engagement and community outreach with non-English speaking families and parents, through workshops and programs, so that all parents and families have a stronger connection to their children’s schools.
- Partner with community groups to develop a plan for the year-round management and maintenance of school-based gardens, including market gardens like the one flourishing at Van Tech Secondary, which engages students in benefiting from the food gardens they’ve helped to create.
- Continue to work with facilities staff, the City of Vancouver and the BC government to find additional options for increased energy and water efficiency in all new schools built in Vancouver, along with options for retrofitting older schools to be more energy and water efficient wherever possible.
- Work with the City of Vancouver in planning and creating more opportunities for students and staff to be able to walk and ride their bikes safely to work, and reduce vehicle pollution near schools.