A forensic audit and full review of the Vancouver School Board (VSB) is being launched by the Ministry of Education in the wake of the board’s refusal last night to pass a balanced budget.
“Parents and students in Vancouver need certainty that every available dollar is going to services to students and not into political agendas and empty seats,” Education Minister Mike Bernier said today. “A full, in-depth forensic audit will look at both the financial situation and board operations at the Vancouver School Board to ensure the close to half a billion dollars taxpayers invest in the district is going to support students.”
Bernier noted that every other school district in the province passed a balanced budget before today’s deadline. The board refused to adopt a balanced budget though it has said staff were making cuts to achieve a balanced budget.
“This refusal to pass a balanced budget while claiming staff are working to balance the budget is bizarre and sadly part of a long pattern of political games at the VSB,” said Bernier. “Parents and students deserve better and our audit is going to help end the political games in Vancouver.”
Bernier pointed to the rejection of the province’s offer to allow the board to sell its ownership in Kingsgate shopping mall was also a surprising move, considering the idea was presented to him by the Vancouver board chairman.
“The Vancouver school board made a political show of rejecting its own idea – and claiming that the path to freeing up a $100 million for student services was not sustainable,” Bernier said. “It’s a sign of just how deep the problems run at the Vancouver School Board.”
Bernier noted that there are 6,500 fewer students in Vancouver today than there were in 2001 – a drop of more than 10%. At the same time provincial funding flowing into Vancouver has risen by 20%.
“The Vancouver School Board has a pattern of predicting large deficits year after year after year and they end up adding to their surplus. Our forensic audit aims to break this cycle,” Bernier said. “It’s time for the games to end and to put students first.”
A graphic illustrating the history of the VSB's budget process can be found at: https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/bcgovphotos/26326949441/in/set-72157626188545988/