Think Schools Conference 2008

Kitsilano High SchoolThink Schools was a one-day conference held on April 6, 2008 that brought nearly 200 citizens together from across the city to develop a vision for renewing schools, so as to leave our children and our neighbourhoods with a legacy of iconic public buildings that serve as community hubs for Vancouver.

Think Schools featured a keynote address from Seattle School Board Building Excellence Program Manager Don Gilmore who shared solutions about preserving and renewing his city's public school buildings through new construction, historic restoration, seismic and infrastructure upgrading.

According to a Vancouver School Board (VSB) report published in September 2007, our city may only have nine of its 64 historic schools left still standing once the board's facilities renewal process is complete. In place of these important public buildings, the city's schools may be systematically reduced in size, unique programming that defines schools will be excluded from these new buildings due to space limitations, and valuable community amenities such as daycare, seniors care, after-school care and auditoriums will be cut from these neighbourhood anchors.

The first school to go through this facilities renewal process was Dickens Elementary which was demolished in the summer of 2008. Think Schools believed there was a growing need to share the Dickens experience with other parent and school support groups across the city. As the next wave of facilities renewal hits schools, the community members who make daily use of these public facilities may benefit from the Dickens story and the solutions the Think Schools conference showcased.

In particular, the conference examined current issues that are shaping the quality of the built space in our public schools:

  • funding formulas and sources;
  • arts and culture, heritage preservation;
  • seismic upgrading and sustainable architecture;
  • childcare and early education initiatives; and
  • general community use.

Photos by Derek von Essen, www.derekvonessen.com.