VANCOUVER—Victory! Community action by a grassroots coalition of parents, community members, and organizations (including CUPE BC and CUPE Local 15) led to a unanimous vote by VSB School Trustees last night to keep Garibaldi Annex open.
“We are very, very happy,” stated an elated Kate Mulligan, one of the parents of the Garibaldi PAC. “As a result of the threat of our school closing, the community galvanized. It was a lot of work, but what lies ahead will be lots of fun. With community support from Frog Hollow Neighourhood House, organizations and others, we were able to turn a huge challenge into a great achievement.”
The Garibaldi Action Committee has been working seven long months on their proposal – a community plan that School Trustees commended as being extraordinary, and meeting many challenges with creativity and innovation.
Two packed buses brought children, parents, grandparents, community supporters, and past alumni to the Vancouver School Board meeting. The Community Carnival Band led them on a festive parade down Granville and Broadway into the VSB chambers. The crowd held CUPE Strong Community signs and a banner signed in petition by community members in support of keeping the school open. Trustees were surprised by the music and colourful entrance of over 100 people who had come to hear the outcome on Garibaldi Annex’s future.
VSB trustees were considering three options: closing the school; accepting the community proposal; and considering an amended version of the plan. They voted unanimously for a plan that had the essence of the Community Proposal but with the added component of including Distant Learning. Trustee Allen Blakey moved an amendment to include Early Learning. Trustee Sharon Gregson led the discussion on the importance of ensuring Early Learning be a part of the final proposal. Trustees Allan Wong, Carol Gibson, and Eleanor Gregory spoke in favour. The amendment was passed unanimously.
Children collected their bears that had been left in the care of Trustees, sang the Garibaldi school song, and presented the Board with their banner. The Carnival Band joined in the celebration with music and song, parading an elated community out the door.