Monday, December 31, 2007

Save Public Education in Vancouver

A group of citizens concerned about the declining health of the Vancouver school system have started a public letter and invite your support. Visit their link at

Friday, December 21, 2007

PAC Meeting with Dan Marriott, acting Associate Superintendent

Dan Marriott, acting Associate Superintendent (temporarily replacing Tom Grant who is leaving to accept the Superintendent position in Coquitlam), came to Garibaldi to meet with the Parents Advisory Council (PAC) this morning and there was an open dialog regarding the possible closure of Garibaldi. In January Parents will receive further details about options for parents and the VSB conditions for keeping Garibaldi open.
Thanks to Dan for making the trip to meet us and answer our questions.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Program Interest - Results from the Survey

Here are the survey (click here to take the survey) results showing interest in the possible programs at Garibaldi. The graph is based on the first 42 respondents (there are about 48 to date). Multiuse refers to preschool/daycare and after-school care.
Fine Arts, French Immersion and Multiuse received the most interest.

Comments from the Survey

Below are comments from the survey (click here if you'd like to do the survey).

Garibaldi is a fantastic community school offers so much more than just K-4 education. Closing the school would be detrimental to the neighbourhood.

We moved into the neighbourhood 3 years ago and heard immediately that Garibaldi was going to close, and that it was primarily E.S.L. focused. Our son is now starting French Immersion kindergarten at Hastings. If a compelling program was offered at Garibaldi, F.I., Fine Arts, we'd love to come on home to our small, neighbourhood school.

The fact that Hastings is so huge, with 2 F.I. kindergartens and a huge waitlist demonstrates that the need is here.

The focus on E.S.L. students needs to continue- that's the neighbourhood. But E.S.L or Mandarin immersion could work in cooperation with other programming that would also appeal to the many families who live here whose first language is English.

There is a tremendous opportunity at Garibaldi to build a school that appeals to and celebrates the incredible cultural and linguistic diversity of this neighbourhood.

I am very impressed by the daycare program offered by Capilano College. Recently they were approached by The York House private school because they want to have the same kind of program offered for their Kindergarten level. Why not having a publicly funded one?

If I had to choose one of the above programs, I would choose Mandarin Immersion, since there is (as far as I know) only one public school in Vancouver that offers that program
I lived 2 blocks from Garibaldi until 2006, but never considered enrolling my kids there due to lack of special programs. I now live at Adanac and Victoria, and still have been unable to find the types of special programming I want for my children, so I'm paying alot of money and spending time in transport to go to Waldorf. Our #1 choice would be Nootka, but at our place on the waiting list we're told it will be probably 4 years to get in. Same story for French Immersion at Hastings or Laura Secord, and might as well forget about Montessori at Tyee. There are obviously many many parents like us who want non-mainstream programs for our kids who don't want to drive to Dickens, Wondertree, etc out west, nor to Waldorf or Windsor House across the bridge. Why can't VSB honour this need and provide it here in the East Side where we live? Garibaldi would be a perfect, intimate, community-based location for any special program. Something along the lines of Nootka, Montessori, Windsor Ho
We also visit the playground daily - what a tragedy to lose this space!
We would welcome any preschool/recreational programs as well, which would be ideal for us in this location.
(Submitted by signed Letter of Commitment)
Don’t close Garibaldi School!!!!!!
Garibaldi is very close to our house and would be convenient. However, my daughter likes the challenge of French Immersion. My younger daughter will start school in 2011, and will go to the same school as my older daughter. Because Garibaldi only goes to grade 4, and there is a four year gap between my kids, it would mean having them in different schools most of the time. If Garibaldi could offer FI and K-7, I would send my daughters there.
Our house is surrounded by incredibly busy main streets, so if Garibaldi closes we would choose to enroll our children in the private school within our neighbourhood. This, however, is not our first choice as we as parents both believe in public education, however our children's safety is obviously first, and we would prefer them to not have to cross such busy streets until they are a bit older.

Secondly, we feel that a smaller school best serves the needs of young children. Smaller is always better in education as it easier for students to learn about each other and to be more accountable for their actions, versus being simply "one of the crowd" in a larger school; essentially being anonomous.

Cutbacks are inevitable, but the safety of our children and a positive educational experience are essential. This being said, please reconsider the impact that the closing of Garibaldi will have on our community, our neighbourhood, and our children.
We believe in the importance of neighbourhood schools and also feel that Hastings is very big and overwhelming for young children - especially those in K-4. We would love to have an alternative in our neighbourhood. We are interested in French Immersion or a Fine Arts curriculum. But also would support Mandarin Immersion or any of the other programs - even if our daughter did not attend. We would value this in our community.
If there was an alternative for french immersion at a smaller, closer school I would love that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kate Mulligan's Report on the VSB Vote to Close Garibaldi

Good Evening All,

Tonight I attended the VSB Board Meeting where trustees voted on the proposed closure of Garibaldi Annex. The motion was amended for trustees to vote on providing the community and stakeholders until March 20th, 2008 to come up with a viable, sustainable options for Garibaldi to continue operations. This will be evaluated based on the current criteria for program assessment.

During discussions tonight, Trustee Sharon Gregson voiced concern for the 21 day process regarding closures and asked the Board to consider a motion for district management to review the policy set out by the VSB. The board agreed to this.

In addition she spoke to the process for this collaborative committee, asking for district management to provide resourcing/funding for this process. She asked that management provide a liaison and staff along with meeting space for the community during this process.

In addition, Allen Wong, indicated that he supported her comments and added that he has concern that the percentage of students living in the catchments is almost unchanged whereas the number of children attending pubic school within the catchment has significantly declined.

Unfortuately, Trustee Blackey was not at the meeting (he was the first to suggest the amendment). Don Lee did not comment on the process or in fact on any other point regarding Garibaldi.

I would let you all know exactly who voted for the amendment, but it happenned too fast for me to write it down.
Shane Simpson, the MLA for Vancouver Hastings, was present and later gave an interview along with myself to media.

In addition the teachers and administration were present.

I think we have a lot of work ahead of us. There are many opportunities for the community to get involved beyond immediate Garibaldi Stakeholders. I think we need to think of this as an educational excercise for the Board and VSB. This is the time that the community can have input as to what program delivery means within our community. We need to tell the VSB that:
  • It is not acceptable to comprise education delivery to meet financial targets
  • The VSB should be advocating for the quality of our education system to the Ministry
  • Parents and stakeholders should have a say in the delivery of education in Vancouver
  • Equal education for all children no matter their parents capabilities to provide opportunities
  • Balanced program delivery in each catchment
  • pre-school learning available to all children
  • Community schools

It is important to remember that it is up to us to work at electing the right individuals to improve education for children. We also should be involved in our child's education, whether it be reading to them at home or helping out in our neighbourhood school, to bringing important issues to the Ministry of education. Everything you do for your child's educatoin is a BIG asset.

How can we move forward as a community:

Let's get together in early January 2008!
  • We need community members representing the educational rights of our community to advocate to the Ministry of Education
  • We need parents and stakeholders with ideas as to what they see are needs within the community
  • We need parents and community to pound the pavement

We need to share a common voice!
Please continue to look for more information and updates on this process on our Garibaldi PAC website, blog and forum:


Information will also be made available on the VSB website regarding the process:

If you would like to get on the committee to look at options, please e-mail myself and the VSB.
Should you like to be on the PAC committee so that your input can be brought forward please e-mail myself.

I would like to thank to date Shane Simpson, MLA Vancouver Hastings, Diane Wilmann and Gary Dobbin from Frog Hollow, Julianna and Steve of the DPAC, Glen Hansman of VESTA, the trustees who advocated on behalf of Garibaldi and the education process, the teachers of Garibaldi and administration, the PAC and parents who have supported us, Outside PACs and parents from other schools who have stood up for community schooling and Erin, Jean Rasmussen and Robin of Canucks Family Place, Jenny for all your translation services, Noel Herron and to all those I missed!

A special thank you to Crystal Hollywood and the parents and community who helped her with the monumental task of flyering the neighbourhood and obtaining 645 signatures on our petition. Thank you to Scott Morgan for all his wonderful website building, blog building and forum building. Thanks to Hal for your advocacy and input into the environmental, community and safety aspects facing Garibaldi students. To Kamal her hard work and contributions.

I know I am missing parents and people that have contributed and entice you to add your own thank yous!

Happy holidays and we will be in touch!!!!

Kate Mulligan

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Notes from tonight's VSB Meeting

Tonight the VSB Trustees, along with Committees II/III, met to listen to delegates' presentations against the possible closure to close Garibaldi. There were eight or nine delegates, covering many aspects of why Garibaldi should stay open. The Trustees decided to amend the motion to allow for the school to stay open if a viable plan to make the school work financially is produced by the end of the 2008 March break. I'll follow up with more details and comments in my next post.

VSB Meeting to hear community feedback Tonight!

Tonight is our last chance to speak to the board of trustees directly. Join us on the free bus trip to the VSB to attend the meeting. The bus leaves in front of the school at 6:15 PM. The meeting is expected to end around 8:30 PM.

Updated list of speakers:
Shane Simpson, MLA
Diane Wilmann, Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House
Scott Morgan, Parent
Kate Muligan, Parent
Kamal Lal, Parent
Crystal Hollywood, Parent
Halford Milne, Parent

See you there!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Closing east-side schools, Opening west-side schools

From the comments to the Survey post:

"Is it true the school board is actually building a new school on the west side? What are we parents being taken for, a bunch of fools? I, for one, am outraged that the school board has told us the whole story". - Anonymous comment

My response:
Yes, it appears to be true. 20% of east side students are leaving their catchment (compared to 3.5% for west side kids). Most are going to the west side where they perceive the educational experience to be better (not actually true - math marks are about the same and literacy is best in the middle income neighbourhoods). So, we are building schools on the west side and closing down schools on the east side to accommodate those who want be schooled across town. Is this a fair use of our tax dollars, or fair to the east side neighbourhoods that are losing the hearts of their communities?
See the article for additional background:

Friday, December 7, 2007

Survey now on-line

The Garibaldi Annex Survey is now on-line at

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Garibaldi in Today's Vancouver Courier

Naoibh O'Conner, staff writer, for the Vancouver Courier has an article in the Courier about our fight to keep the school open. The article is also on the Courier's website:
The article mentions Crystal Hollywood's petition and this blog. The print edition also has a photograph of Crystal and her son, Cristopher, in front of the school (Cristopher does not look happy that his school is threatened with closure!). The article mentions that the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers Association (VESTA) has arranged for a bus to drive anyone interested in attending the VSB committee meeting on December 12. The bus leaves at 6:15 PM from in front of the school at 1025 Slocan Street. At the meeting the committee will be hearing arguments from the public on why the school should remain open. If you'd like to speak, please call Lois Schack of the VSB at 604-713-5019 to register.
So far registered to speak are:
  • Shane Simpson, MLA Vancouver-Hastings
  • Diane Wilmann, Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House
  • Scott Morgan, Parent
The committee will give a presentation, to be followed by presentations by registered speakers. Each speaker will have five minutes, followed by up to five minutes of questions.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Petition Update

Crystal mentioned that over 600 people have now signed the petition. If you haven't yet and would like to, you can sign at the office at 1025 Slocan Street during school hours or by contacting Crystal at


Flyer No. 2 and Letter of Commitment

Kate, Hal, Keanna and I met last night to review Crystal's new flyer and Letter of Commitment. With the Letter of Commitment we are attempting to survey the Nelson/Garibaldi catchment east of Nanaimo to determine how many children would attend Garibaldi in the next few years should the programs they require be offered at Garibaldi. These questions are motivated by the knowledge that 154 students living in the catchment are leaving for programs elsewhere and that, anecdotally, we see many babies born to the many young families that have moved into the area in the last few years. The answers to these questions will help justify keeping Garibaldi open and offering programs the neighbourhood requires. The flyer and the Letter of Commitment are available for download from our website:
We will attempt to deliver the survey to each house in the catchment east of Nanaimo over the next week. If you don't receive one, please download it and deliver your completed survey to Garibaldi School at 1025 Slocan Street.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

VSB Public Meeting at Garibaldi (Revised November 29, 2007)

The VSB put on a public meeting tonight and formally presented the proposal to close Garibaldi. The meeting was well attended our very vocal community. The gym was about 75% full. The VSB's purpose was to inform our community of the process initiated to consider the closure of Garibaldi Annex, to record the concerns expressed by the community and to report those concerns to the trustees, who will make a decision on the closure on December 17.

VSB Attendees (this is from memory -- sorry if I've missed anyone):
? - Area Office
Brenda Ng - Secretary / Treasurer
Chris Kelly - Superintendent
Ken Denike - Chairman
Tom Grant - Associate Superintendent
? - Human Resources
Henry Ahking - Planning and Facilities
Craig Sidjak - Facilities Planner
Laurie Anderson - Associate Superintendent

City TV
Vancouver Courier

VSB Presentation
The board gave a slide show of background information, including the trend of decreasing enrollment in Vancouver schools and the need for seismic upgrades. VSB facilities are under-utilized by 10,000 seats, about 7,000 of which would be elementary students. There are 41 students at Garibaldi out of a capacity of 165. Begbie and Nelson are due for seismic upgrades in 2009. Garibaldi is sufficiently sound seismically that is not slated for seismic work (if kept open) until 2015 or later. Following the board's presentation they opened the floor to questions. There were some excellent and passionate (OK, some were very angry) speakers on the side of keeping the school open (and no one from the audience, if memory serves, suggested the school be closed). The board's presentation will be made available on the the VSB website.

Notes from the question period
  1. Several in the community expressed dismay that the process time-line was so short (19 days from the public meeting to the final decision). Chris Kelly, Superintendent, pointed out that they were bound by the process time-line [as set in the VSB's policies and procedures].
  2. Someone suggested that Garibaldi be kept open to accommodate students displaced by the seismic upgrades at Nelson in 2009. Even if there is space at Nelson during the upgrade, Garibaldi might make for a better learning environment, away from the noise of the construction work.
  3. Many made the point that students are leaving the catchment due to the lack of daycare and preschool. We have identified independent preschool and daycare operators in the neighbourhood who would like to relocate their businesses at Garibaldi (in fact, when I contacted one such operator, she said she had already contacted the school board about using some of their excess space but was asked to wait to the end of the process). The school board said that they would have to charge more for renting the space than would be viable for the operators. However, this model is working at many other schools in Vancouver. Why not Garibaldi? We need to assess the cost and budgets of potential operators. I know one operator whose facility costs are about $2000/month.
  4. The board presented projections for the number of students expected to enroll at Garibaldi. They projected enrollment is 40-50 students annually over the next few years. However, the data have not included any recent surveys in the catchment. In last few five years we have noticed a large increase in the number of young families moving into the area and a large number of babies being born. The children are here. We need to serve the needs of the community by offering at Garibaldi the services that will keep them in the catchment. According to the VSB data, there are 437 elementary students living in the Nelson catchment (which includes Garibaldi) and 283 in-catchment students attending Nelson. This means that 154 students are leaving the catchment for other schools. If we consider the likely proportion that are in the Garibaldi grade range of K-4 (5 K-4 grades divided by 8 total grades) and splitting the remaining students over Nelson and Garibaldi, we get that there are potentially 47 students that would stay in the catchment, attend Garibaldi and be able to walk to school if the Garibaldi provided the services they are leaving for. That would bring the total enrollment at Garibaldi to 88. We believe the many babies being born to the new young families that have moved into the neighbourhood recently will increase these numbers greatly. Perhaps a survey is in order to back up our observations (yes, we're working on it).
  5. Another reason given for students not attending Garibaldi was that for the last three years the community has been told that the school would be closing. Parents, not wanting to submit their children to an unnecessary school change, enrolled their children elsewhere.
  6. Tom Grant was asked the whether the board considered attracting students back to Garibadli by offering French Immersion or other special programs. He answered no. Hastings School, with a capacity of 705 students, has long wait list for its French Immersion program. Why not serve that demand by offering French Immersion at Garibaldi?
  7. Kate Mulligan made the point (amongst many others) that special programs are available in other parts of the city. Why not ours? Why don't our children have equal access to special programs and be schooled in our neighbourhood?
  8. The school is used at almost 100% capacity when you consider the community education programs run by Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, the Pacific Immigration Resource Services (ESL for children and parents), the Canucks Family Education Centre and other events such as the community song circles. There are 80 additional people involved in the Frog Hollow progam alone. The board responded that the people attending these programs don't get counted when considering the enrollment in the school.
The VSB will bring these points to the trustees. There will be a formal opportunity for the community to make their case to keep the school open at a meeting at the VSB on December 12, 7:00 PM. We are arranging for a bus to drive any interested community members to the meeting Meet in front of Garibaldi at 6:15 PM on December 12. If you'd like to speak or present at the meeting, you need to book with Lois Schack at the VSB: 604-713-5019. The trustees will vote December 17 on whether to close the school.

Some Thoughts
There are enough kids in the neighbourhood to keep Garibaldi open. We need to offer the services that will serve the children and the greater community, increase enrollment and offset facility costs, instead of forcing students to leave the catchment.

What you can do
  1. Contribute to the discussion in this blog and our forum. Give us your ideas and feedback on how to convince the trustees to keep Garibaldi open.
  2. Volunteer to help with distributing flyers, writing letters to the School Trustees, distributing surveys and collecting petition signatures or helping organize. See this link for more information.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sunday PAC Meeting Update

Kate Mulligan, Kamal and I met yesterday (Sunday, November 25) to create a statement to media. The Vancouver Elementary School Teachers Association will be translating.

Crystal Hollywood and friends have collected over 500 signatures on her petition to keep Garibaldi open.

Two more days until the VSB public meeting at the school. Come and voice your concerns.

Garibali Annex Public Meeting,
7:00 PM, Wednesday, November 28
1025 Slocan, Vancouver

Friday, November 23, 2007

New Website and Forum

We now have a website and forum. The website is mostly for downloading documents, such as Kate Mulligan's Frog Hollow presentation. The forum allows for a community dialog.
Please contribute your ideas and concerns on forum!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Family Song Circle Review

There was a large, vocal and rhythmic turnout to Tuesday's song circle. We had enough parents and children to cover most of the library. There was also a good showing from the community outside of those with children at Garibaldi. Hal brought some drums to share, and Fenton brought his guitar. Thanks to Vice Principal, Noreen Morris, for hosting the music night.
Crystal collected petition signatures that night and there was a strong showing, with much concern being expressed by the community.
There will likely be another community music event (Christmas themed) in December. I'll post details here when dates are set.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Garibaldi Facebook Group

Note that there is a Garibaldi Annex group on Do a search on "Garibaldi Annex Alumni." You may have to join (free) if you're not a member.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Process Time Line

We'll post a detailed time line of the process here shortly. The key dates to note are (quotes from school board memo):

November 28, 2007, 7:00 PM. There will be a public meeting at Garibaldi Annex, 1025 Slocan Avenue, Vancouver. "District management will present information regarding the possible closure of Garibaldi Annex and obtain input and feedback. The meeting is open to the public.

December 12, 2007, 7:00 PM. "District management will report back and summareize the feedback from the consultation meetings. Delegates wishing to make a formal presentation to Trustees must pre-register by contacting Lois Schack @ 604-713-5019.

December 17, 2007, 7:00 PM. "The Board of Trustees will consider the results of the consultation process and make a decision regarding the possible closure of Garibaldi Annex. This metting is oopen to the public."

December 18, 2007: An announcement of the board's decision will be made in the media and on their website (

Family Song Circle - Tuesday, November 20, 2007

On Tuesday, November 20, 2007, from 6:30 to 7:30 PM, we will be holding the second of our monthly Family Song Circles. The community is welcome and encouraged to join in. The format is that we sit in a circle in the library while various participants lead the group in a song. Participants are encouraged to bring musical instruments and any songs they'd like to share with the group.

For more information, call Scott Morgan at 604-839-7268.

Review of November 14 Meeting at Frog Hollow

An information and organizing meeting was held last night at Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House with parents, members of the community and the media as represented by City TV. Shane Simpson, MLA for Vancouver-Hastings was on hand and provided encouragement and ideas for how to approach the board. Julianne Doctor of the Vancouver School Board (VSB) District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) attended and also offered some suggestions.

Kate Mulligan gave PowerPoint presentation showing some of the history of the move to close Garibaldi, along with utilization statistics of Nelson/Garibaldi and nearby schools. She also highlighted some of the current benefits of the school to the community through Frog Hollow and the Canucks Family Education programs. Kate's presentation will be linked here shortly.
Jenny Lam translated for the Cantonese speakers. Hal Milne presented his concerns centred around benefits to the community, as did Crystal Hollywood. There was good feedback and suggestions from the attendees.
Crystal enlisted some additional help distributing leaflets to the community and collecting petition signatures. Some of the volunteers enlisted speak Cantonese and Mandarin, so that that sector of the community will be reached.

City TV coverage (cable 13 in Vancouver) will likely air from 6-10:00 AM Thursday, November 15.

Garibaldi Annex Mail List

If you'd like to join the Garibaldi email list, send an email to

Send a Letter to Shane Simpson, MLA

If you are concerned about the possible closure of Garibaldi Annex, you can write to Shane Simpson, MLA for Vancouver-Hastings. His contact details are:

Shane Simpson
2365 Hastings St E.
Vancouver, BC
V5L 1V6

Phone: 604 775-2277

Fax: 604 775-2352


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Information Meeting called for Tonight, Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Let's Keep our Neighbourhood School in the Neighbourhood!


Tonight! Wednesday, November 14, 7 PM - 8 PM at
Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House,
2131 Renfrew Street,


Translation will be provided in Cantonese and Mandarin

Press Links

Here are some links to newspaper articles about move to close Garibaldi and east side schools in general.


This blog is for exchanging information about the possible closure of Garibaldi Annex. Please feel free to leave comments in the Comment section.