As the summer holidays come to a close, many students will be returning to schools that are not able to withstand a major earthquake.
Seismologists agree that there is a one in three chance of “the big one” within the next 50 years. Some even argue that it may even happen within the next 10 years.
Despite more than half of Richmond public schools requiring seismic upgrades, the current provincial government is not backing down on the release of much-needed funds until the district is “at capacity.”
Currently, Richmond School District is running “under capacity” (according to the Ministry) at 81 per cent, which allows for just enough space for band, resource, and art rooms, computer labs and before/after school care rooms. Hardly under-utilized.
However, the provincial government is forcing the school board to find ways to increase enrolment capacity — which leaves the school trustees no other other choice but to consider closing schools.
Because of this ridiculous requirement, the fate of 16 elementary schools will be decided in the next few weeks. When the decision is finalized, three to five schools will face permanent closure, resulting in hundreds of displaced students, not to mention many families who will be scrambling for child care.
The public education system remains chronically under-funded. Each year, families shell out hundreds of dollars to parent advisory councils to help cover basic costs such as library books and computers.
Teachers spend hundreds, some even thousands, of their own money to stock a classroom. The current government needs to stop making funding announcements; anyone can see past their fake smiles; they are only interested in retaining votes.
I urge everyone in Richmond to join us for a rally on Saturday Sept. 17, at 4:30 p.m., in front of the office of MLA John Yap in Steveston. Your presence will send a strong message to those in power.
John Diefenbaker Elementary PAC