In March 2015 the Minister of Education appointed EY (formerly Ernst & Young) as a Special Advisor to the VSB, and in June the final report was released. There were 63 recommendations; 12 for the Ministry of Education and 51 for the VSB. The Minister requires the VSB to read and consider our recommendations. The report and recommendations focus on our district finances/business, but as trustees I believe we must always keep top of mind our students’ education.
On November 23 the VSB board decided on our response to the VSB recommendations. My decision was to agree with 30 recommendations, further consider 16, and disagree with five.
In general I agreed with the recommendations that are already being carried out within our district, for example to increase summer school enrolment, have clear communication with the City of Vancouver, and continue to develop a robust maintenance plan and track annual costs.
In general I agreed to consider recommendations to explore options, even if I do not agree with all the options offered, so that all aspects of an issue are considered in board decision making. For example, many of the Capital Asset Management recommendations will be considered as the district develops and decides on the Long Range Strategic Facilities Plan (LRSFP).
I disagreed with five recommendations:
- Limiting budget information for stakeholders
We should continue to make the current budget information available to our stakeholders to support transparency and consultation
- Guidance threshold for Net Accumulated Surpluses
We should not set an arbitrary threshold as we do not control the largest contributor, provincial funds released late in the financial year
- Template school design
We should not adopt a template school design as most urban sites have unique configurations and seismic upgrades are unique to each school
- Change procurement approach
We should continue to prequalify architects and contractors for efficient service delivery of capital projects
- Simultaneously undertake the school closure process for multiple schools
Completion of the Long Range Strategic Facilities Plan will determine timing for consultation if school closure is considered
As a board there was strong consensus on how to respond to most of the recommendations as only four responses did not receive unanimous board support. The VSB response is posted online here.
I thank trustees, staff, stakeholders and public presenters for their work on this report.