News / Vancouver

B.C. government dumps 95% utilization requirement for Vancouver School Board

VSB no longer has to fill classrooms to 95% in order to receive seismic funding

Vancouver's Jamieson Elementary received $13.1 million for seismic upgrades.

Wanyee Li / Metro Order this photo

Vancouver's Jamieson Elementary received $13.1 million for seismic upgrades.

The Vancouver School Board will no longer need to work toward a 95 per cent utilization rate in order to receive funding for seismic upgrades, Education Mike Bernier announced Wednesday afternoon.

The school district is in the midst of deciding which schools to close in its Long Range Facilities plan, which was largely based on reaching the 95 per cent utilization rate set by the province.

But Bernier said that number was intended to be a guideline and highlighted the funding the district has already received despite not meeting the government’s target.

“Within Vancouver alone, there are $200 million dollars on nine projects…it is evidence of the fact that the province, regardless of what’s been said around 95 per cent utilization, we’ve been taking those investments for the betterment of students, teachers in our schools.”

Bernier emphasized that the district is “not off the hook.”

“School districts need to make good financial decisions. Does that mean schools need to be amalgamated and closed? Absolutely it does.”

VSB chair Mike Lombardi told Metro the board would be meeting in the coming days to discuss how the announcement will affect its potential school closure list, which now includes 11 schools after Britannia Secondary was taken off. 

Lombardi also thanked parents for their support in getting rid of the utilization rate target.

“I would like to thank today the parents, stakeholders and community groups that have rallied to advocate against the arbitrary 95 per cent figure.”