After dragging the process out for over a year the Vancouver School Board has deferred, yet again, the closing of the Garibaldi Annex. The school, with an enrollment of 41 students, has been given a reprieve of two years to boast the number of students from 41 to 77.
In isolation the proposal is effective and inspiring for all people who support keeping all schools currently on the books. In the wider context of next fall’s school board election and the current proposal to close Queen Elizabeth Annex on the well-off west side the school board’s decision seems to imply that no schools will be shut down.
No one envies trustees having to make hard decisions in the face of dozens of young children, their parents, and musical acts. In the long run keeping as many small schools as possible open is a good idea. Every child needs to have the privilege of going to school in a place where they are known by name and as a person. In the larger elementary schools of 500-600 and more the annex type experience is only a faint dream. I think that one wold be more excited if the decision Monday night was part of a wider plan to downsize all of the existing elementary schools so that no school was larger than 250 students.
Congratulations to the Garibaldi community and, by extension, to the Queen Elizabeth Annex parents who can now point out that there are no supportable grounds for closing any school in the district.
Let’s hope that the district can find a way to rebuild schools that are needed.
See Janet Steffenhagen’s blog on the same subject with some similar conclusions.