Wanted: Theatre Artists for Civic Action

Victoria-based acting teacher turned governmental watchdog Jessica Van der Veen is looking for a few good theatreists to help out with an upcoming action at the BC Legislature next month. On Monday, April 7 there will be a rally drawing awareness to the issue of the closing down and selling off of public school lands as brought about by the Ministry of Education. Jess is looking to add some colour and movement to the verbiage of the rally on the legislature steps, any theatre artists in the Vancouver or Victoria areas that are interested in working with her to put something together that will creatively get some attention can contact her at bc.lands@gmail.com, or through us at vanstage@gmail.com.

Hey, it would look awesome on a resume.

Children should always be beautiful, safe, strong and free. – Jessica Van der Veen

LANDS! (Let’s Agree Not to Dispose of Schools!)

Media Release
For Immediate Release, March 7, 2008
LANDS! calls for a Province-Wide Rally of Parents
and Concerned Citizens at the Legislature on Monday, April 7th.

Victoria, BC: The public coalition LANDS! (Let’s Agree Not to Dispose of Schools!) is calling on all PACs, pregnant mothers, parents, municipal counsellors, trustees and citizens concerned about the future of our province to join them at a rally to declare their objections to school closures and the sale of school properties.

Previous generations placed the lands in public trust for the future education of all generations of children. Therefore, the lands are not ours to sell. The Ministry of Education has told the school districts to “bring money to the table” if they need money for capital projects (such as new schools), thereby forcing school districts to close schools and sell the land. There are at least 140 school properties at risk of being sold off across BC. The Ministry of Education has downloaded increasing responsibilities onto school districts, without increasing capacity or amending the funding formula.

Stephanie Longstaff, a PAC Executive member from Sooke School District said “We are working to unite parents, students, citizens, school districts and municipalities to convince the Provincial government to fully fund capital spending and support sustainable public education for future generations.”

“Selling off public lands and assets has only resulted in more sell-offs and more cuts. Someone has to put a stop to this – and that someone must be all of us!” stated Jessica Van der Veen. She added, “On a brighter note, some municipalities are preserving school land in the public domain through zoning laws. Thank heavens for common sense!”

Blaine Castle (a parent from the Cowichan Valley School District) noted, “The Ministry of Education has stopped adequately funding the cost pressures faced by School Boards. Therefore Boards are forced to sell schools to generate capital funds needed to build and maintain bigger schools. Warehousing kids in big-box schools makes no dollars and sense – especially considering the educational benefits of smaller schools!”

The rally will include short presentations from a number of speakers. Citizens who believe school lands belong to future
generations are encouraged to wear green to show their support. Meagan Blaquiere (17) asks, “Where will my children go to school if your generation sells these lands? How will it help the environment if everyone is driving their kids to distant schools?”
Issues in Capital Spending

Education spending has fallen by 16% from 6.2% of GDP to 5.2% of GDP since 2001, though enrolment has only declined by 1% in the same period.

Media Note:
Assistance is available to arrange interviews or photo opportunities with PAC Executive, parents and other stakeholders. A backgrounder outlining the situation, history and current issues is attached as well as additional contact information. For
more information: LANDS!, please visit the website here.

Media Contacts:
Jessica Van Der Veen – Tel: (250) 884-1953
Blaine Castle – Tel: (250) 661-8823

email: bc.lands@gmail.com

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