Vancouver elementary school might  be headed for closure once again

Once again, a tiny elementary school on Vancouver’s west side is moving toward closure.

On Monday evening, the Vancouver School Board voted seven-to-two to begin the school closure process for Queen Elizabeth Annex.

It’s the fourth time since 2008 the small elementary school — with 71 students enrolled as of September 2021 — has faced a permanent shutdown.

Board Chair Janet Fraser says things have changed since the board last considered the school’s fate in 2019. Most importantly, she says, there is a long-term plan for seismic upgrades of school buildings and for student enrolment.

“There is never a good time to have tough conversations like this, and we recognize this is hard for families,” said Fraser, who voted with the majority.

“The conversation will continue to be thoughtful and considerate … this is the first step.”

A staff report proposes moving the students at the annex to either L’École Jules Quesnel or Queen Elizabeth Elementary, both about one kilometre north.

The report makes a case that closing the annex would avoid deferred maintenance on the school, which is already seismically unsafe. It would also save money by consolidating services for students.

It also notes that the annex could be transferred to the province’s French-language school board, the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, as part of ongoing legal issues.

Annex Parent Advisory Council Chair Lily Cameron says Monday’s vote signals another familiar, frustrating fight to keep the school open.

She has two kids at the school and doesn’t want to see them and their classmates forced to switch schools, especially with the pandemic having injected chaos into much of their young lives already.

“This school, it’s been such a safe haven for our kids and it’s such a special place for them and they’re so happy to go there,” Cameron said.

“So to add this instability, this change, this uncertain future, it just doesn’t seem right.”

Monday’s vote begins the closure process. There are multiple further steps and consultation requirements before the school could actually shut its doors.

The earliest a final vote could happen, the school district says, is May. 

District staff are recommending the school close in June 2023.

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