Scathing report issued on VSB (SD39)

The Comptroller General has just released a scathing report on the Vancouver School Board (School District 39).

In her report, Comptroller General Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland says the current Vancouver Board of Trustees (dominated by COPE/Vision) “has not demonstrated they have the management capacity to effectively govern the Vancouver School.”

The Comptroller General also identified “a potential conflict of interest on the part of a trustee.”

Much of this will sound painfully familiar to many in the New Westminster community, and it could offer a glimpse into where the Auditor General’s current investigation of the New Westminster School Board may be headed.

Time will tell.

But for now, here’s a few salient quotes from the Comptroller General’s report:

The current Vancouver School Board of Trustees governance practices and philosophies are not fully consistent with the requirements of the Act to improve student achievement in a fiscally responsible and cost effective manner. The Board of Trustees does not take a balanced approach to its accountabilities, focusing on advocacy at the expense of stewardship. The majority of the Vancouver School Board trustees see their role relative to the Ministry of Education as one primarily related to advocacy, rather than as “co-governors” of the education system. The effect of this extensive advocacy activity deflects the accountability of the trustees from the overall financial stewardship of the Vancouver School Board.


The current Board of Trustees has not demonstrated they have the management capacity to effectively govern the Vancouver School Board or fulfill all of their accountabilities and duties of the Act. This is evidenced by the quality of board discussions, their focus on short term decisions at the expense of long term sustainability, the lack of strategic and long term plans, and an unbalanced focus on advocacy versus financial stewardship, delaying decisions that would see the effective use of existing or available resources.


We also identified a potential conflict of interest on the part of a trustee between their business interests and their obligations as a board member, in contravention of the School Act. The Minister of Education and the Board of Trustees should take steps to determine whether the conflict of interest has been realized.


The Vancouver School Board had many policies and procedures to promote good conduct and high ethical standards. Notwithstanding these policies and procedures, consistent concerns about the ethical and organizational culture at the Vancouver School Board were strongly evident from our review. These concerns focused on the lack of impartiality of a number of Trustees and a lack of trust, confidence and respect between the Vancouver School Board Trustees and the District Management Team.


The Vancouver School Board‟s present financial and operational situation is the result of choices made by the current and previous Boards of Trustees. The culture and governance practices of the Vancouver School Board, and ultimately the decisions or non-decisions, are reflective of these choices: a number of the decisions have been less than optimal from a financial sustainability perspective. Opportunities to reduce costs, generate revenues and maximize the available resources to the benefit of students have been missed.