In a turn of events, the BC Ministry of Education has dissolved the Vancouver School Board after it failed to approve a balanced budget. The school district’s board of trustees have been fired effective immediately.
Former Delta school district superintendent Dianne Turner has been appointed as the official trustee for the Vancouver school district.
At this time, no date has been set for the possible by-election for a new board of trustees.
For months, the Vision Vancouver-dominated board refused to approve the 2016/2017 operating budget that would result in more cuts to classrooms. However, on Friday, it said it was willing to pass the operating budget during a vote that was supposed to take place today.
“What we have witnessed from the Vancouver School Board is a misplaced focus on political tactics rather than responsible stewardship,” reads a statement by Education Minister Mike Bernier.
“This step has been taken despite the possibility that the board may now be willing to pass a balanced budget. It is impossible to have any confidence that a potential last-minute change of position on the district budget signals a fundamental change in the attitude which has so far led the board to refuse to follow the law.”
The most recent budget for the fiscal year had a $21-million shortfall, and the board of trustees had until June 30 to pass a balanced budget to avoid being dismissed. It also previously rejected a proposal by the BC government to sell under-utilized school properties to raise revenue to help cover interim budget deficit.
Schools districts across the province were mandated to pass a balance budget to access provincial funding for seismic retrofits.
A forensic report on the school board’s financial and governance practices was set to be released today, but it has been delayed because of a privacy complaint.
“Special Advisor Peter Milburn was appointed to report on the VSB’s financial and governance practices,” the statement continues. “I received his draft report Saturday and it deepens my concerns. It was my desire to release that report today. Instead, due to a privacy complaint that has been publicly reported, the appropriate course is to wait for the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to complete its privacy investigation.”
Last month, the trustees approved a shortlist of 11 schools to be considered for closure:
Local school boards are agents of the provincial government under the provincial school act.