WATCH: An audit of the Vancouver School Board has found millions of dollars in savings through school cuts
VANCOUVER – An independent review of the Vancouver Board of Education’s (VBE) finances has found that there is no reason for them to be in debt.
Ernst and Young’s independent review has found there could be $72 million in potential annual savings and revenues and a one-time saving of up to $750.
The report also points to the fact that there are more than 10,000 empty seats in the district and recommend an “aggressive asset rationalization approach” that could see up to 19 schools close.
The report does not identify the schools but does provide maps showing which elementary and secondary schools have a less than 70 per cent utilization rate.
Five of the six under-utilized secondary schools are in the east side of Vancouver, with four of the schools in close proximity to each other (Britannia Secondary School and Templeton Secondary School; and Gladstone Secondary School and Windemere Secondary School).
The report finds the majority of under-utilized elementary schools and annexes are in the east side of Vancouver, compared to the west side.
“It’s clear from Ernst and Young’s review there are more opportunities for the Vancouver Board of Education to find efficiencies, improve revenues and make better use of facilities,” said Education Minister Peter Fassbender in a release. “We are confident this review maps a positive path forward for the board that will ultimately benefit students and taxpayers.”
The audit makes 59 recommendations overall to save money.
“The board clearly knows, and we do, that there are 10,000 empty seats in the City of Vancouver,” said Fassbender in a press conference today. “That needs to be addressed to ensure that their budget, one, is balanced and number two, focuses on student outcomes.”
“The report does say that the Vancouver Board has some good budgeting processes, but it’s critical that they do develop a long-term strategy, which they currently do not have, in order to ensure that their planning and fiscal decisions are made in a prudent and well-thought-out process.”
June 30 is the deadline for the Vancouver Board of Education to submit its balanced budget to the ministry, which is something required of all districts.
The full report can be viewed here.