The Vancouver School Board is looking to sell or lease school property that is currently part of Graham Bruce Elementary School.
Parents were shocked to receive a letter from the Vancouver School Board on June 2 that stated:
“Staff are proposing to sell or long-term lease the eastern portion to generate necessary capital revenue.”
The move would see part of the school’s soccer field subdivided. Despite what the letter says, the VSB chair denies that land is being offered for sale.
“There is no speaking of selling land,” said Victoria Jung. “We’re entering into a process of engagement so that information will be brought back to the board to help inform the decision of the board.”
The letter says the school sits on a larger site than other elementary schools in the area.
Property in Metro Vancouver is a valuable asset, which has parents slamming the board for potentially letting go of public land.
“I would encourage the Minister of Education to put a wholesale stop to subdivisions of any urban environment, province-wide,” said Vik Khanna, a member of the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council.
“It just makes sense. You know you’re going to grow. Why would you sell education land?”
The school board argues enrolments across the provinces are declining, despite the provincial statistics showing an increase.
At Graham Bruce, there are 270 kids enrolled, with more expected to attend in the fall under provincial projections.
But the school board takes issue with the provincial government’s numbers.
“The Vancouver School District is very complex, and it’s dynamic. And we use localized information in data. The ministry uses census data that is collected every five years,” said Jung.
Melanie Cheng is a parent who received the letter from the VSB. Two of her children attended Graham Bruce, and she went there as a child.
“They are not disclosing to us what those capital plan priorities are, but none of those plans include seismic upgrades to our school,” said Cheng.
The school is listed as being in “very poor condition” according to the VSB Facilities Condition Index. It’s something parents believe the VSB should be focusing on instead.
“Schools will shrink and grow over time,” said Khanna. “This area is going to be immensely, immensely dense. This is Collingwood. This is Kingsway Joyce.”
Health Minister Adrian Dix is the MLA for Vancouver Kingsway. He calls the elementary school “an exceptional group of students, parents and teachers.”
“I have worked with parents to support the school repeatedly over the past 10 years. I continue to support the Graham Bruce school community now and will be with them, as they work, and sometimes fight, to defend Bruce students and the community,” he said in a statement to CTV News.
CTV News has reached out to the education minister to ask if she supports the sale of school property, but has yet to receive a response.
The letter parents received from the school board is embedded below.