Petition circulates to oppose provincial government school closures

At least 800 adults from three schools have signed district-wide petition

A petition against planned school closures is circulating Richmond’s school district and organizer Kim Nowitsky says she’s already amassed 800 signatures from three elementary schools.

There is concern, she said, that only 10 schools have contacted her since distributing the petition nearly two weeks ago. 

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The activist mom wants all schools to get involved.

“I think the parents of schools not on the (closure) list think that the closures won’t affect them. But they’re going to have to absorb other students and that means their facilities will be taxed. There will be less gym time and special rooms will be used up,” noted Nowitsky.

Notably, in some closure scenarios, the school district has proposed portables at schools not on the list of closures.

The petition ends June 17 and Nowitsky is asking PAC members at all schools to sign it. She said parents can contact the PAC liaisons at their respective school.

The petition opposes the Ministry of Education’s apparent order of closing schools to increase utilization rates (to 95 per cent) to receive funding for seismic and facility upgrades.

But, the Ministry told the Richmond News there is no such order that the district must meet 95 per cent capacity for seismic upgrades.* That target is only specific to facility upgrades, such as new schools and expansions. However, the Ministry said it will consider capacity for seismic upgrades on a case by case basis.

A rally at Steveston MLA John Yap’s office is scheduled for Saturday, June 18 where the petition (also in Chinese) can be signed. A large crowd is expected, said Nowitsky.

Notably the petition must be physically signed to be recognized by the B.C. Legislature.

* Online note: Richmond trustees and district staff have stated there is in fact a directive from the Ministry that the district must be at 95 per cent capacity to recieve seismic upgrades. A Ministry spokesperson stated otherwise. 

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