Late Friday afternoon, a month after Ministry of Education staff put the U Hill rebuilding plan on hold, Liberal MLA Colin Hansen announced a major infrastructure program for Vancouver School Board that includes rebuilding U Hill Secondary and constructing a new elementary school.
We are all appreciative of this announcement. It’s been a long time coming. We look forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting to the hard work of designing and building our renewed community schools.
As members of the current Parents Advisory Council we want to say a very special and loud thank you to the many parents past and present who have lobbied, argued, emailed, discussed, pushed, prayed, begged, pleaded, and just plain believed that someday our children and our community’s needs would be responded to. We want to also thank school administrators, like former U Hill principal Jill Philipchuk, who worked with parents, staff, and senior administrators to keep the pressure on. It is also important to recognize the work of current and former school board trustees who worked hard on this issue: Kevin Milsip and Alan Wong (COPE), Carol Gibson and Ken Denike (NPA), and more recently former DPAC and PAC activist and current Board Chair, Patti Bacchus (Vision). Without the combined effort of politicians, administrators, staff, and parents the results of our education system would be much poorer.
We must, however, remember that this is a problem that we have all known about for close to a decade. There have been plans and approvals and pauses all along the way. Several cohorts of parent volunteers have grown tired trying to explain over and over again that schools are needed. We hope that for the future whom ever is in provincial office will change the way in which schools are planned and built so that real needs are met when they exist, not years after they have shifted from minor headache to major problem.
For those interested in such things and unable to access the BCCPAC web site here are minutes from the most recently published Board Meeting Minutes.
Additional commentary can be found on Janet Steffenhagen’s blog.
BCCPAC Board Minutes, Feb. 19, 2009
BCCPAC Board Minutes, Feb. 20-22, 2009
According to Vancouver Sun reporter, Janet Steffenhagen, the Premier will be making a funding announcement today. Questions remain as to whether the promised funding announcement will include the much needed University Hill area school rebuilding plan.
Future in doubt for two new schools
There’s no word on whether two new public schools slated for the University of British Columbia area will be part of infrastructure spending recently announced by the provincial government.
On March 17 Premier Gordon Campbell announced the B.C. government would spend an additional $424 million on new schools and school renovations.
But the Ministry of Education will not confirm if an elementary and secondary school to replace the University Hill schools will receive funding.
Premier Campbell announced a 800 million plus infrastructure program March 17th. $430 million is allocated for 130 renovations and school construction projects. The U Hill area school projects requires at least $83 million dollars. To bring the full project to completion very likely additional monies will be required.
Education and the 2009 budget – Report Card
It’s always a challenge in the lockup to figure out what money is “new” and what has been announced previously. Take the capital spending, for example. The budget promises $1.3 billion over three years to replace, renovate or expand K-12 facilities (including seismic upgrades). But as we found out, that is for projects already planned or underway.
This might suggest that the rebuilding of U Hill has been delayed for three years. If K-12 capital project (i.e. building) is for planed or underway projects U Hill is out of consideration in terms of the ‘underway’ category. We would need some details to understand what constitutes fitting under the ‘planned’ category. Does the fact that there is not agreement in principle in place at this time for U Hill mean that it is outside of the ‘planned’ category? Let’s hope not.
UBC/UEL capital project bylaw delayed – News and Media Releases
UBC/UEL capital project bylaw delayed
Vancouver, B.C. – (February 16, 2009) – Vancouver’s Board of Education has delayed passage of the capital project bylaw for new secondary and elementary school facilities within the University Hill Secondary School catchment area pending approval from the Ministry of Education.
The bylaw, which was scheduled to be introduced this evening, would authorize the school district to convert and expand the existing National Research Council (NRC) building for a secondary school and construct a new elementary school on the current site of University Hill Secondary School.
The Vancouver school district has completed and submitted all work required to move the project forward, but is yet to receive approval from the Ministry for the capital project bylaw.
The Vancouver Superintendent of Schools, along with other members of senior staff, is in contact with Ministry officials concerning the delay in this project. Trustees will also be writing to Minister of Education Shirley Bond to request a status update and communicate the urgent need for project approval.
It is the Board’s expectation that the capital project approval process will be expedited by the Ministry so that the capital project bylaw can be brought to an upcoming board meeting.
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U Hill Secondary Parents Advisory Council
Late breaking news – VSB will defer passing capital funding by-law for rebuilding university hill schools by direction of high level Ministry of Education staff.
We need to let our MLA and premier know that we need our schools and we need them now!
We have set up an automatic email form for you to use. Please consider sending an email right now!
You can find the automatic email page here http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/menzies/email
Someone is trying to organize a survey monkey poll on Ron Broda and the BCCPAC. The following email is circulating:
Is your PAC a member of BCCPAC?
What is your opinion of the current difficulties facing the Board?
Let’s tell them what you think
Survey closes February 18th
No information was provided as to who is actually behind this. Nor is there any information provided as to what use will be made of the information provided. Though it doesn’t take much to figure out that is is not being done by BCCPAC nor is it supportive of said organization
The provincial government has given approval in principle to rebuild the university hill network of schools. They have allocated up to 84 million dollars for the job. VSB passed a motion in the finances standing committee that is going to the full board Feb. 16. Read all about it here.