Vancouver Khalsa School faces closure after lease expires

The students of Khalsa School in Vancouver are facing a pressing problem of having to change their school because the district is not renewing its lease.

The Khalsa School has been functioning in Vancouver since 1986. The original building was destroyed by a suspicious fire in 2009 and since then, the school has leased land from the Vancouver School District on the same site.

“We’ve always been very clear that the lease arrangement was going to be expiring and it was a temporary solution, or situation, for them,” said Kurt Heinrich with the Vancouver School Board.
“For us, we need that space.”

That means students from public schools will be moved into the Khalsa School building.

Some parents who send their kids to the Khalsa School are having to figure out where to send their children for language and religious training.

“It’s definitely hard because my daughter is already in Grade 6 … so it’s going to be one year for her to adjust in another school, which is going to be a lot for us,” said a parent.
“And it’s a neighbourhood school and it’s very convenient, so it’s very hard for us.”

School principal Jasbir Bhatia says officials were hoping the district would renew the lease as it has done for years.

“We teach them the Sikh way of life, we teach them religion, we teach them how to sing hymns, how to respect the holy book,” he said. “All those will be missing if the school is closed.”

Bhatia says there is room for the students at the school’s Surrey campus, but understands that may be too much of a commute for some Vancouver parents.

The Vancouver School Board has offered to find capacity within existing schools for the Khalsa School students, but school staff are still hopeful they can find another home in Vancouver.