School annexes may be on chopping block

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      A Vancouver school trustee says annexes are more likely to be closed than bigger elementary and secondary schools.

      According to Fraser Ballantyne, his experience as a former teacher and school administrator has shown him that “kids benefit far more from the value-added activities that happen in a bigger and larger school.”

      “What parents are now discovering is that having their kid in a small setting, like with a small population, is not as advantageous as a larger population,” Ballantyne told the Straight in a phone interview.

      Four annexes are included on the preliminary list of 12 schools that might be considered for closure by the school board. These are Queen Elizabeth, Champlain Heights, Tecumseh, and McBride, which have student populations ranging from more than 80 to less than 110.

      In 2010, Champlain Heights Annex and McBride Annex were among the five annexes and elementary schools considered for closure. In the end, the board voted to keep all five schools open.

      The new list of 12 schools released by the board in June includes six elementary schools and two secondary schools.

      Vancouver staff have been preparing detailed reports about each of the dozen schools over the course of the summer, and these will be presented to the board in September. The board will then determine which of the schools will be further considered for closure.

      The earliest closures may happen for the start of the 2017–18 school year. “That doesn’t mean that we’re going to be closing them down forever,” Ballantyne said.

      According to Ballantyne, the district will need to retain capacity for students who will have to be transferred to new educational facilities while their schools are seismically upgraded.

      Starting in the 2016–17 school year, which begins in September, the board is closing down three annexes. These are Laurier, Maquinna, and Henderson.