As you may be aware, trustees faced difficult financial decisions this spring, and last evening approved a budget that includes approximately $16 million in spending reductions and eliminates 137 positions. We also received a report earlier this month from a government appointed special advisor recommending we consider school closures to reduce our costs.Without delving into the politics of the matter there has been a general trend towards lower public school enrollment in the past number of years. This is not to say that the school-age population is necessarily dropping -- parents may be opting for private or home schooling instead. Statistics do indicate a dropping school-age population in Vancouver but, interestingly, the number of family-sized dwellings in the city has not commensurately dropped.
It is in this context that district management prepared a list of schools that trustees might consider for possible closure. The schools on the pre-notification list were selected because of a number of factors, including low enrolment, under utilization and the availability of space at neighbouring schools.
Looking at recent birth rates, it is likely these school closures may be a bit premature. But beyond even that, a look at the city's available housing stock shows a strange dichotomy between dwellings designed for families with school-age children and the actual residents of these dwellings. At some point it would seem reasonable the utility of these dwelling should match the residents' needs by way of demographic shift back towards more children or re-development away from the usual family-oriented architecture.