Patti Bacchus: Standing up for Vancouver’s public schools and putting the needs of kids first

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      Six years ago I asked Vancouver voters to give me the opportunity to represent them at the Vancouver school board—and they did. Since then I’ve worked hard to advocate for the needs of our schools and the children who attend them.

      These have been challenging times for public education in B.C., but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. Most importantly, graduation rates are at an all time high and 14 percent more aboriginal students are graduating each year than when I was first elected in 2008.

      I’m also proud of the progress Vision has made on the school seismic upgrade program. I’ve had the pleasure of signing more than $200 million in funding agreements with the Ministry of Education to rebuild or upgrade seismically at risk schools. That’s something I’ve been working on since I was a member of Families for School Seismic Safety before I was elected as a trustee. It’s something I’m determined to see through, so that every VSB student can go to school in a seismically safe building.

      With fewer families with school-aged kids living in Vancouver, we’ve been under pressure from government to close schools. We had that conversation with Vancouver residents in 2010 and heard loudly and clearly that neighbourhood schools are the heart and souls of their communities and that they want them kept open. So instead of closing them and boarding them up—as the NPA trustees have called for—we’ve found better solutions, like leasing out space to Green Thumb Theatres at Carleton, or moving adult education programs from expensive leased space to under-enrolled schools like Gladstone, which saves us more than $600,000 in rental costs. We recently moved staff offices to surplus space at the Garibaldi Annex, so we can lease out their former West Broadway offices for over $300,000 a year. We also moved a secondary alternative program from a leased space to a surplus building at an elementary school—saving $45,000 a year—despite the NPA’s opposition to the plan.

      I will continue to work with the Vision Vancouver school board team to find creative and fiscally responsible uses for surplus school space so those schools are there for tomorrow’s students. In 2010 the NPA opposed our motion to keep McBride Annex open, but this year it had a waiting list for kindergarten. We know more growth is coming and we will work with communities to keep their local schools thriving, instead of closing them as the NPA would. We can’t risk going backward with the NPA.

      I’m hoping voters will support me for another term so we can fully implement policies that support diversity and our recently updated sexual orientation and gender identity policy—making Vancouver schools safe, welcoming, and inclusive for all students, staff, and families. But it will take a strong Vision school board majority to ensure that happens.

      I want to keep up the good work, so please support me and my Vision colleagues on November 15.




      Oct 10, 2014 at 8:47pm

      Patti Bacchus has clearly done a lot for our schools and students in Vancouver. it's a shame that she didn't also include the VSB's forward-thinking and compassionate revision to the standing 2002 VSB policy on Gender and Sexuality Inclusion. Bacchus and the majority of school trustees did a wonderful job of ensuring that all voices were heard in the challenging debates that ensued.

      Marcy Toms

      Oct 11, 2014 at 3:17pm

      She did. Look at "our recently updated sexual orientation and gender identity policy." The second paragraph before the final one. The above commentary lists various policy aspects that need attention, but what Patti leaves out is her outspoken and articulate advocacy for a well-funded public education system and her welcome and morale-boosting support for public school teachers. She takes the 'trust' foundation of the word trustee seriously. Would that trustees around the province looked to her as an exemplar, and practiced what she does.


      Oct 11, 2014 at 5:58pm

      This would be a good time to promise you won't eliminate band and music programs from future budgets.

      Niovi Patsicakis

      Oct 11, 2014 at 8:48pm

      When all was dark and gloomy you stood up. You stood up for teachers. You stood up for students, you stood up for families. You inspired me to run, as my voice was no longer satisfying from the outside, the voices were far too silent from the inside in the biggest district of BC. Thank you Patti for your leadership and vision.