Students are at the centre of schools, and schools are the hearts of our communities. With every decision, your Vancouver Green School Trustees will ensure we are creating inclusive schools that meet every student’s needs and support our most vulnerable students. We will take a long-term approach to public education planning as part of community building, standing up for financial and environmental sustainability. We will work to create a better education for all students to enable them to succeed in a rapidly changing world. As well, we will listen to students, parents, staff and the local community, working collaboratively to create a better Vancouver, together.
Your Vancouver Green School Trustees will work for:
Fully funded public schools
A fully funded public education system is the best investment we can make to create a better future for Vancouver. Provincial funding for Vancouver’s schools has been cut every year since 2002. For instance, the 2014-15 Vancouver School Board budget alone has been underfunded by $54.3 million. When compared to service levels in 2002, that means the loss of 520 entry-level teachers and $14.7 million in supplies and services. To work toward fully funded public schools we will:
• Advocate for full funding from the province for Vancouver’s schools. Basic building operations funding should be stable and not based on enrolment numbers.
• Work to build schools where urgently needed, especially downtown, to eliminate the unfair school entry lottery system. These schools are urgently needed: International Village, Coal Harbour, Olympic Village, East Fraserlands elementary schools and the expansion of King George Secondary. ^TOP
Inclusive schools to support vulnerable students
Vancouver has a diverse student population, which is a key strength of our public education system. The Vancouver School Board is projected to have a budget shortfall of $27 million in 2015-16. During this time of critical budget cuts, we will prioritize programs that support our most vulnerable students so that all students can feel safe, welcome and ready to learn. So we will:
• Seek opportunities to increase the affordability of as well as access to hot lunch and breakfast programs, instrument rentals, field trips and supply fees for students living in poverty who fall outside designated inner city schools.
• Protect and enhance the English Language Learner and Multicultural Liaison programs so students and families can succeed in Vancouver schools.
• Seek increased federal funding and local opportunities to help reduce cultural and learning barriers for First Nations students.
• Fully implement the updated Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities Policy, and monitor its implementation and success at every school; upgrade the LGBTQ support worker to full time.
• Protect and enhance SACY, the substance use prevention initiative in all schools.^TOP
Schools as the heart of the community
All families should feel confident that their neighbourhood school is an excellent choice. Schools can be much more than buildings where students learn during the day — they should be places that bring the community together. Our priorities will be to:
• Improve communication between the School Board and parents. Review how the VSB website is meeting parents’ needs and provide clearer notice of upcoming issues, School Board decisions and voting records.
• Plan for more childcare space in new and seismically upgraded schools.
• Repurpose surplus space in under-capacity schools for community use and consider establishing more community schools.
• Not sell school property in order to keep schools within walking distance and retain the land for future community use.
• Investigate making space for public art installations at new schools.^TOP
Safe schools for everyone
Every student has the right to be safe at school. School safety includes a sense of security and well-being as well as physical and mental health. Working collaboratively with students, parents and partner organizations we will make our schools safer by:
• Working with the provincial government to jumpstart capital funding to speed up seismic upgrades since 49 Vancouver schools — or nearly half — have been designated as high seismic risk.
• Ensuring students have safe routes to walk and bike to all schools. We will work collaboratively with partner organizations on traffic calming and teaching students pedestrian and bike safety.
• Strengthening emotional well-being through better anti-bullying, mental health and online safety programs^TOP
Financial sustainability and transparency
Financial sustainability will provide stability and improve services to students. Taxpayers, including parents, want to see budget details and understand how provincial funding is spent in our schools so they know that funds are spent wisely. For these reasons, your Vancouver Green School trustees will:
• Increase transparency with clearer and more detailed reporting.
• Develop a strategy with the province to allow the VSB’s carbon taxes to be used to make our schools energy efficient, instead of sending our public school dollars to subsidize private industry elsewhere.
• Create an online rental system to increase community access and rental revenue, since too many fields and rooms sit empty too much of the time. We will also collaborate with Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation to create a central booking system.
• Use more school parking lots to generate revenue outside of school hours.^TOP
A healthy student is more likely to achieve success in school. We must protect and improve the health of our students by:
• Developing a plan to make sure all school cafeterias and breakfast/lunch programs provide affordable, healthy and nutritious food. Right now, not all schools are following the BC guidelines for food and beverage sales.
• Promoting walking and biking to school to improve healthy living and academic achievement.
• Reviewing chemicals used in our schools and eliminating any that could harm students and staff.^TOP
Genuine green schools
We must work towards making our schools environmentally sustainable. Living in a city like Vancouver, we also need to enhance opportunities for students to learn about and experience our natural environment. To make our schools genuinely green, your Vancouver Green Trustees will:
• Continue to improve recycling programs and focus on zero waste implementation.
• Encourage opportunities for students to build skills for the future in technology, innovation, gardening, food production and problem solving since students will be working in a world with jobs that haven’t been invented yet.
• Work with partner organizations, such as the Park Board, to expand programs that get students out in nature.
• Strive to protect, restore and improve heritage buildings when implementing seismic upgrades.
• Advocate for building new schools and upgrading older ones for the long term by considering energy use, sustainability and student well-being, not just capital costs.