A study released by the Fraser Institute Tuesday morning reveals 57.3 per cent of independent schools in the Lower Mainland reported a waiting list for enrolment in 2011/12. Of those schools, almost 80 per cent said waiting lists had been the norm for the past three years.
Twenty-eight of 41 independent schools in Vancouver responded to the survey. Nineteen schools, or 34.5 per cent, reported waiting lists. The Waitlists for Independent Schools in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland report encourages independent schools to grow into vacant public school facilities. The Vancouver School Board is discouraging such use. It’s looking for an organization to move into heritage buildings at Sexsmith elementary at 59th avenue and Ontario Street and it’s broadening a second call for proposals by type of use, but continuing to exclude use by independent schools.
Halloween shenanigans cost the school board up to $300,000 in fire damage at just one site last year, so the district will continue its patrols to deter trespassers this Halloween and the upcoming weekend.
Fireworks shot through a chain-linked storage cage near the Total Education site at 425 East 29th Ave. set plastic toys ablaze last Halloween. The heat melted the seal on a propane tank and propane spewed up the side of the building. The school was closed for months and students relocated.
In 2010, fireworks flung through smashed classroom windows sparked the sprinkler system. Water damage cost the district $50,000.
Brian Bell, the school board’s assistant manager of operations, says the district averages $25,000 in damage around Halloween while vandalism costs the board $500,000 a year.
“You’re looking at five to 10 per cent of [the damage] in one night, that’s pretty significant,” Bell said. “It doesn’t take a lot in terms of fire damage to increase the total.”
Contracted security patrolled 70 school sites this past weekend. No damage was done.
Student First buses will roll around schools during trick or treating hours on Halloween night.
Staff from the school board’s material services and maintenance department will be equipped with delivery trucks loaded with supplies to make emergency repairs.
Anyone who sees suspicious activity is asked to call 911. The school board will seek restitution for the cost of any damage done and provide information to aid police investigations.
The district has run a vandalism reduction program at Halloween since 1996. The board expects to spend $15,000 on security this year.
Justice, Not Charity
COPE’s education committee has organized a conference called Justice, Not Charity: A Discussion of Inner City Schools and Creeping Corporatization on Nov. 3. Conference-goers will review past initiatives, and then hear from both an activist elementary school teacher about Vancouver inner city schools and a parent who has examined the perils of fundraising. Organizers want a comprehensive plan to be developed out of the conference. The event will run at the Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture at 6184 Ash St. near Oakridge mall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch will be provided and the event is pay what you can, with a suggested donation of $20. For more information, look under “events” at cope.bc.ca.