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.