Review of Vancouver Board of Education: 10,000 empty seats, $750 million in one-time savings, $72 million in annual savings

Peter Fassbender Photo by Chandra Bodalia
Peter Fassbender
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

EDUCATION Minister Peter Fassbender on Tuesday released Ernst and Young’s independent review of the Vancouver Board of Education’s (VBE) finances that points to $72 million worth of potential annual savings and revenues, as well as one-time savings of up to $750 million.

“It’s clear from Ernst and Young’s review there are more opportunities for the Vancouver Board of Education to find efficiencies, improve revenues and make better use of facilities,” said Fassbender. “We are confident this review maps a positive path forward for the board that will ultimately benefit students and taxpayers.”

The review contains 52 findings and makes 59 recommendations. The review notes the need for an integrated, long-term strategic plan so the VBE can make better-informed budget decisions in the years ahead. It also recommends VBE address its more than 10,000 empty school seats, which could yield savings of up to $37 million a year, in the long-term facilities plan being developed for June 30.

The review also notes that for more than a decade, the board has consistently forecasted a deficit budget, but has ended each year by adding to its sizeable surplus. The chronic public debate about preliminary budgets only serves to muddy the waters and create anxiety for parents and the public.

June 30 is the deadline for the Vancouver Board of Education to submit its balanced budget to the ministry (something required of all districts). As well, it has until June 30 to provide a written report which demonstrates that the board read and considered the recommendations in the special advisor’s report prior to adopting the 2015-16 Budget.

“The report also contains 12 recommendations for the Ministry of Education – and we will act on all of them,” said Fassbender.

In February, VBE trustees wrote to the ministers of Education and Finance to say they projected a minimum budget shortfall of $15 million for the 2015-16 school year. As a result, in March the education minister appointed Ernst and Young to review, evaluate and make recommendations aimed at helping the recently elected board balance its budget, reduce overhead and find administrative efficiencies, while protecting and enhancing resources for student instruction.

“Even though the newly elected Vancouver Board of Education has indicated it will table a balanced budget, there may be additional short-term recommendations from the review that could be implemented immediately,” said Fassbender. “The ministry is committed to supporting our partners in Vancouver as they move forward in order to remain 100% focused on student outcomes.”


The executive summary can be viewed at:


The full report can be viewed at: