Supporting Public Education
An Update from the Parent Advocacy Network for Public Education (PAN):
PAN Presented to Select Standing Committee - Mon Sept 19, 2016
Budget 2017 consulations online survey - please take here now - let the government know Public Education is important to YOU - click here to take the survey - 3 min top!
Again this year, we have presented to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. Read our presentation from last year.
The same ALL PARTY committee that has recommended increased funding and a review of the funding method for public education for two years straight. Help ensure this year is no different, in fact, assist them in giving even stronger recommendations for Budget 2017.
- Website opens to receive submissions and online survey responses on Thursday, September 15.
- The consultation ends on Friday, October 14.
- Report on its consultation to be released by Tuesday, November 15, 2016
VSB Closures - What Everyone Needs to Know
The whole closures discussion - like the funding debate - can be confusing. Read the relevant facts and information here: http://www.panvancouver.ca/school-closures.html
Please share the link widely within your networks - we are trying to reach as many affected families as we can. And follow our lead on Twitter and Facebook in promoting it.
VSB Closure Meetings - Attend & Write to Trustees
There are many meetings in the coming weeks pertaining specifically to potential school closures. Key dates are noted below and we encourage everyone to attend to show support, to give feedback to Trustees regarding closures via email and to read the VSB reports on the 12 schools on the list. While you may think the closures won't affect you...they will. Just as the budget shortfall will affect all of us in different ways, so too will closures.
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Released Education Report
The BC government continues to claim that funding for public education is at “record levels”, but that simply isn’t the case. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) tells the real "factual" story behind BC’s education funding crisis in their recently released report "What is the real story behind the education funding crisis?" This is a must read document as it dispels government spin and tells the straight facts. Spoiler alert - its government who is responsible fur underfunding!
The Future of Public Ed Event - Wed Oct 5
The Tyee is hosting an education evening called “The Future of Public Education: Beyond the Headlines". Our own Jen Stewart of both PAN and FACE is one of the speakers. Details about the event are online and you can purchase tix too. The event on Oct 5 is from 7-9pm and will feature speakers who will explore what is, and what could be, for public education in British Columbia. From innovations to challenges, and from the perspective of teachers, academics,students and parents, they will delve into the possibilities ahead for our education system.
Continue to Spread the Word - BC Education is in the Black but Education is in the Red!
More You Can Do:
1. Use the FACE quick and easy email tool to write to your MLA and the Minister of Education about budget shortfalls and cuts and closures.
2. Tweet about cuts and closures in your district using the hashtag #bcedinred.
3. Keep public education funding a key issue in the 2017 provincial election. Ask all the candidates in your riding what they will do to address the underfunding of public education.
PAN Activities Highlights
Here are just a few of our recent activities - many of which have been warmly received by the local media (online, print, radio)
·September 6 - Met with Vancouver City Councillor Andrea Reimer who will present a motion re school closures on Sept 21
·August 31 - Vancouver Sun publishes our 2nd Op Ed piece
·August 31 - Media Release for Public Ed Advocacy Event
Due to chronic underfunding of public education, schools across BC are facing dramatic shortfalls that will affect the quality of education for our kids. Districts must maintain balanced budgets, in order to accomplish this, they must decide what programs and services to shut down. Send the message to our government that we do not want a budget balanced on the backs of our children.
More information at:
PAN Vancouver - www.panvancouver.ca
FACE - Families Against Cuts to Education - facebc.wordpress.com
Did You Know?
To read some of the presentations made at the VSB public hearing, including Bayview - click here
The Vancouver School Board issued it's 2016/17 preliminary budget plan on March 31. Due to an estimated $27M shortfall, many significant cuts are proposed. Over 200 positions are on the chopping block and many students will be affected.
What does this mean for our kids?
- elimination of the elementary band and strings program
- elimination of school library programs and teacher librarians
- no more district technology support (help and mentorship to teachers to use and teach technology in their classes)
- cuts to special education programs (resource rooms, specialised programing for children with special needs)
- an end to 30-student caps on secondary school classes and loss of 33 secondary teachers
- elimination of positions that coordinate district-wide sports and arts events
- elimination of supports for resource teachers, SSWs and gifted teachers
- elimination of all 12 positions that provide intensive, small group literacy interventions to vulnerable students in inner city schools
- 12 fewer SSW positions that support special needs students in classrooms
Bayview School will be directly affected by the cuts. While we won’t know exactly until the budget is passed, there is strong likelihood that there will be a cut to non-enrolling teachers. This will mean reduction in resource support to our most vulnerable student and our already underfunded library program. One of the proposals is to eliminate teacher Liberians all together. Can you imagine our school without a library??
Other cuts that might get you fired up ... the entire elementary Strings Program, cuts in Arts & Athletics funding, some Special Needs consultants and teacher mentors, huge cuts to the Gifted Programs (including challenge centre teachers, the gifted mentor, and a psychologist). The proposed budget can be found here.
What can you do?
4. Show Up for BC Education! Public Input meeting: Tuesday April 12 at 7pm at Vancouver Tech Secondary (a second meeting will be held on April 14 at the VSB at 5pm) - Parents and students can simply show up at the hearing to show your concern.
- 5. Learn more about the Provincial Education Budget - check PAN questions to the ministry about the 2016/17 proposed budget
It is time for action ... please write a letter and speak to others about it.
- Interested to find out about PAN's advocacy work to restore the district's arts
education programming - to read more
Ministry of Education
MLA email addresses:
VSB Trustee addresses:
WEAR RED this Thursday, May 19th, 2016 , because BC ED IN RED (#BCEDINRED)
Public Education Panel hosted at Bayview by PAN, on Feb 24, 2016
Between 2002 and 2012, this many full-time specialist teacher jobs were cut:
- 770 Special Education teachers
- 342 English Language Learning teachers
- 286 librarians
- 120 counsellors
- 11 Aboriginal Education teachers
The Vancouver School Board says its 2015/16 budget needs $59 million more for it to get back to the level of service students had in 2002/03. This is just one of 60 districts in BC.
BC’s budget announced in February 2015 does not give enough funding to education.
The budget does not cover rising costs for things like MSP premiums, inflation, and Hydro rates.
The budget forces school boards to cut $54 million more over the next two years.
The budget cuts capital funding (money for repairs or new schools) by over $40 million.
The budget includes an $800 million surplus, a $200 million tax cut for the rich, and $30 million more for independent (private) schools.
In June 2015, a special advisor hired by the Ministry of Education told the Vancouver School Board to close and sell 19 schools.
- To get a good sense of what is going on in our school system, read this review submitted to the Select Standing Committee on behalf of PAN - Parents Advocacy Network for Public Education.
- PAN's presentation to the VSB on its Proposed Response to the Ernst and Young Special Advisor' Report.
Now That You Know... What Can You Do?
Call or write to your MLA, the premier, and the ministers of education and finance.
Find their contact info here: www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm.
Write/tweet/call local media about education issues.
Tell others about what you’ve learned about the state of education in BC.
Tweet using the #bced hashtag.
Want to Learn More?
Protect Public Education Now: ppen.ca
Fix BC Ed: fixbced.tumblr.com
Families Against Cuts to Education (FACE): FACEBC.wordpress.com
Public Facebook groups such as “BC voters supporting BC teachers and public education,” “BC Citizens for Public Education” and “Watchdogs of Public Education BC”
Find sources for these facts on FACE website: facebc.wordpress.com
Bayview Seismic Committee
Who's on the Bayview Seismic Committee?
Tanya Kyi, Valia Thorburn, Gili Avrahami, Kathy Hobbs, Knut Boeck, Maria Dos Santos
What's happening right now?
Our PDR (feasibility study) is complete, and under review by the Seismic Project Office's steering committee. The steering committee is made up of the Deputy Minister of Education, the CEO of Partnerships BC, and the VSB superintendent and secretary-treasurer. Once the steering committee has approved the PDR, Bayview parents will learn which option has been recommended.
Led by project manager Kent Grier, a team of architects and engineers have costed three options for creating a seismically safe Bayview:
1. Renovating the existing building.
2. Replacing the building with a new structure built in the current location.
3. Replacing the building with a new structure built on the current playing field.
If the existing building is renovated, or if it's rebuilt on the current footprint, students will be bussed to another location during construction. If the school is rebuilt on the playing field, it may be possible for students to remain in the old building while a new structure is constructed.
We have been waiting since October 2016 for the PDR findings to be reviewed and released. On January 18th, 2017, the seismic committee wrote to Minister of Education Mike Bernier, Deputy Minister Dave Byng, and MLA David Eby to ask that the process be expedited. On January 23rd, David Eby sent a letter to the Minister of Education requesting a progress update. You can read his letter here. Dave Byng's reply to Bayview parents can be seen here.
What did previous studies suggest?
In 2014, the school board completed the first stage of the upgrade process -- a report called the Seismic Project Identification Report (SPIR). This is an engineering report which helps staff predict the costs of an upgrade. In some cases, a retrofit can be accomplished at similar cost to a new building, and the province is often willing to fund upgrades of existing heritage buildings if costs are similar.
In Bayview's case, costs are likely not similar. The SPIR identified the following construction needs, if the building were to be upgraded:
* New concrete walls throughout the building, new foundations, new pilings drilled.
* Flooring in most of the school would be destroyed and replaced.
* On first and second floors, new concrete walls would be built against existing walls (making rooms slightly smaller).
* Plywood sheer walls would be added to the attic/roof.
This sort of seismic retrofit would meet “life safety standards," meaning everyone would get out of the building alive. But, the building would not necessarily be usable after an earthquake.
According to VSB staff, and our parent architect, an upgrade would bring Bayview to 0.7 of current building codes. A new school would be built to 1.3 of code. Because building codes are created around a theoretical "design earthquake," this difference in stability could be a significant factor during a major earthquake.
The SPIR costing indicates that the engineering costs alone for upgrading Bayview would be approximately $11.5 million. The upgrading project in its entirety would cost between $17 and 23 million.
As of 2014, a new school for Bayview's population size cost about $12 million to build. VSB staff repeated several times in meeting with the seismic committee that Bayview is "likely headed toward a new school." However, this was before the upgrade process was handed over to the new Seismic Project Office. We will know more once the PDR findings are released.
How long will an upgrade take?
Construction is unlikely until at least the 2019/2020 school year. When there has been consensus between parents, teachers, and community members, some schools have moved from proposal to construction in as little as three years. Other schools have faced divisions over heritage value versus safety or cost, and those projects have taken seven years or more. (Nine in the case of Strathcona Elementary, which finally received government approval in 2014.)
We'd like to ensure the upgrade process goes smoothly and efficiently, so that our children are in a safe building as quickly as possible.
Is there other background info I should know?
Bayview Community School was built in 1914 and has significant historical value.
Unfortunately, Bayview’s age has led to both maintenance concerns (lead pipes, asbestos, outdated heating systems, etc.) and seismic concerns. The Province of BC Seismic Assessment Program in 2004 and the follow-up Vancouver School Board audit completed by Coriolis Consulting in 2011 both ranked Bayview at high risk of structural failure in the case of an earthquake.
These are schools that were built in Long Beach, California, at almost the same time as Bayview. Like Bayview, they were unreinforced brick buildings with inferior mortar. A five-second-long magnitude 6.25 earthquake struck Long Beach in March 1933.
What does the Seismic Committee Do?
We are working to ensure our upgrade proceeds as quickly as possible. Many projects have faced repeated delays, but we want Bayview students in a safe building soon.
If the school is rebuilt, the new building will likely be smaller than the existing school. Our committee wants to ensure our upgraded school is built to high quality standards, offers significant space for future growth, and accommodates our heritage as a community school, host to preschools, out-of-school care, and several community organizations.
We also want to make sure the voices of parents, teachers, and community members are clearly heard in the upgrade process. We're working on a survey to be distributed once our PDR begins.
MLA David Eby raised the issue of Bayview's seismic upgrade during the government debate on budget estimates in April 2016. Minister of Education Mike Bernier assured Mr. Eby that our upgrade was a government priority. You can watch their exchange here.
Bayview parents staged a "Not Safe to Shake" rally on May 7th, 2015. Trustees Christopher Richardson, Patti Bacchus, Mike Lombardi, Janet Fraser, and Penny Noble attended, along with opposition critic for education Rob Fleming. The rally was covered by The Georgia Straight and by Vancouver 24 Hours.
Many parents sent letters in February and March 2015 to Minister of Education Peter Fassbender, Premier Christy Clark, and VSB Chair Christopher Richardson, expressing our concerns about these delays. (Sample Letter)
Bayview's seismic needs were previously highlighted by several media outlets, including CBC and CTV.
In 2012, parents wrote letters en masse to both Christy Clark, our local MLA, and Don MacRae, then Minister of Education. We received a response from Don MacRae on November 8, 2012.
David Eby, the NDP candidate in our riding, toured the school on February 8, 2013. During the July 2013 budget debates, he also asked Minister of Education Peter Fassbender to expedite our upgrade and those of other Vancouver schools.
The Seismic Committee started a petition which has over 1200 signatures to date. Members also created a video tour of our school. The video has over 800 views and can be seen here.
What Can You Do?
You can also write a letter to your local newspaper. The Vancouver Courier and The Vancouver Sun have published letters from concerned Bayview parents.
Issue - BC Gaming Grant Review
On morning of September 16th, 2011 at the Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel (1133 West Hasting Street) between 8:30 am and 12:30 pm a fellow named Skip Triplett will be holding a public forum designed to solicit feedback on the current BC Gaming Grants. The gaming grants are monies provided to organizations like the PAC as collected by the Province of British Columbia during lottery and other gaming activities. The PAC receives about 20% of our annual budget from this grant and thus we feel this is an important issue for us to have our say in. We are looking for one or more volunteers to put together a short presentation that we would like to present during this public forum on behalf of the Bayview PAC.
For more information about the event, see here.
Bayview is fortunate to have three playground areas.
1. Facing Collingwood close to West 6th Avenue, there is a mainly primary area consisting of several slides, nets, climbers, and pods. This playground equipment was purchased by the PAC, thanks in part to a $10,000 playground grant, and constructed by parents and other community members in 2008. The wooden slide at the very north end is likely to be removed in the coming years, as older wooden structures are fazed out.
2. Also on Collingwood but a little closer to West 7th Avenue, there is an older wooden structure with monkey bars, as well as a geodesic climber right next to the school. Like the coloured wooden slide in Area 1, these structures are likely to be slated for removal by the School Board at some point (see discussion below).
3. At the back of the school, near Dunbar Street, is more intermediate equipment. Some of this equipment, including the slide and lily pad section, was purchased and built in 2003. The remainder was purchased and built in 2009. The very back part of the playground cost about $18,000 – and was paid for by PAC funds plus a playground grant obtained by the PAC. The original plan included a large net in the center, which explains the empty space in the center of the playground. However, the PAC did not have adequate funds for this additional piece of equipment and decided to leave the necessary (and required) clearance to put in the climber in the near future.
So what are the issues?
The school has a lot of newer metal/plastic equipment because the previous playgrounds were made of pressure-treated wood. The Vancouver School Board slated these older structures for removal as part of their initiative to eliminate pressure-treated wood. This type of wood was used extensively in the past but has been found to leach cadmium and other heavy metals into the soil. Removal usually means replacement of much of the surrounding wood chips and/or soil.
The other consideration is the cost of maintaining older wooden structures. In some cases, the School Board has found it too expensive to monitor and repair things that no longer meet safety codes. Think of older slides – often higher and with less rim on the sides – or now extinct metal merry-go-rounds. The older wooden structures in the front playgrounds are likely to be phased out at some point, although there is no clear deadline right now. See here for some information about the VSB and playground maintenance.
Playground equipment is quite expensive. So parents have to weigh the cost of fundraising (and applying for grants) with the benefits of snazzy new structures. There are some wonderful possibilities out there, and you may have seen them at parks (e.g. Ceperley Park, Kits Beach) or schools (e.g. Emily Carr). The net climber included in the original plan from Suttle Recreation is called the High Stepper (either Regular size or Medium Size). The 2011 catalogue price is $17,700 (Regular) or $26,273 (Medium). There would be additional costs as well as possible rebates, so the net price could be more.
Another hot topic is natural playgrounds – with trees, rocks, and other features. While Bayview has a nice area by the back hill, we may want to consider expanding the natural areas rather than purchasing more equipment. Some more information can be found here: http://www.naturalplaygrounds.ca/
There may be playground grants available through various organizations and corporations, as well as provincial gaming grants. In the past, Bayview has received two $10,000 grants for the upgrades of the front and back playgrounds.
Please voice your opinions about playground options to the PAC Executive and at meetings.
Advocacy - Raise an Issue
When you come across an issue you want to raise, let us know! The PAC Executive can discuss how to address the issue. It might be a small question that we can help you answer. Or maybe it's a bigger issue for the PAC community to rally behind collectively – to try and affect a change. Our goal is to tap into the skills and passions of our parents and the wider community around us. We can work together to fix what needs fixing, and to create a better learning environment for our children.
Some of the topics that have been raised with the PAC in recent years and are still relevant are:
- Seismic Upgrades to Schools
- Funding Cuts
- Classroom Size
- BC Gaming Grants
- FSA Testing (Provincial Foundation Skills Assessment for Grades 4 and 7)
So, if one (or more) of these issues hits your hot-button, or if you want to raise another issue, let us know – so we can work together to advocate for change.
To get started, contact the PAC Executive. Make us aware of the issue. We can make suggestions on how to proceed or maybe answer a niggling question that can't wait.