ABC board conducts $700m budget process behind locked doors
VANCOUVER (Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories) - The Vancouver School Board (VSB) has taken the unprecedented step of barring the public from its meetings.
“Conducting what are supposed to be transparent processes behind doors that are physically locked is inappropriate and anti-democratic,” said OneCity school trustee Jennifer Reddy. “The VSB budget is significant and has massive implications for students, parents and the community. It’s simply unacceptable that these kinds of decisions be made behind closed doors.”
At the most recent VSB meeting on April 3, the Board met to discuss its $700 million budget. Former VSB trustee Ruth Herman showed up in person to take in the proceedings, but she was shut out. Herman was told that VSB meetings are no longer open for the public to attend in person.
“When I was a Trustee, we did our business where we could be seen and heard in person. I can’t understand why this board has decided to shut the door on that long-standing democratic practice,” said Herman. “As a parent and tax payer, this is deeply concerning to me.”
Members of the public will now only be able to access VSB meetings online. This policy creates unnecessary barriers for folks who want to follow and engage with the debates and decisions of the VSB. “Importantly, this also shuts media out of the room,” says Vik Khana, chair of Vancouver District Parent Advisory Board.
Taking drastic actions to avoid public scrutiny has become a pattern for the ABC Vancouver board. Standing committee meetings are now closed as well.
“The public is less and less able to access our decisions,” said Reddy. “This turns the VSB into a fortress. They’re shutting the public out when we should be inviting them in.”
Every child has the right to a public education and the community has a right to see how the VSB allocates resources to serve those children. OneCity Vancouver is calling for the VSB to unlock the doors and immediately re-open its meetings to the public.
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OneCity Vancouver communications committee