British Columbia

Vancouver School Board projections show some schools over capacity

The Vancouver School Board says some children may not get into elementary schools in their catchment area, even though enrolment is declining over the whole district.

Some schools already over capacity, projected to double school population in 6 years

The Vancouver School Board is struggling to find space for its students at select elementary schools. (CBC)

The Vancouver School Board says new projections indicate some children may not get into elementary schools in their catchment area, even though enrolment is declining across the district.

The board is struggling to find space for students at  several elementary schools that are already at capacity and projected to double their population over the next six years. 

Dave Nelson, the director of instruction at the Vancouver School Board, said the board is struggling. 

"We have areas of the city where we have schools that are still underutilized, and then we have these pockets in the downtown core, in the southeast False Creek area, where we're seeing huge growth," he said. 

Increased density in neighbourhoods, such as the Olympic Village, is pushing up school populations. 

Among the projections, the catchment area for Simon Fraser Elementary shows the student population will double over the next six years, as will Henry Hudson Elementary in Kitsilano.

Projected populations at select Vancouver School Board elementary schools

Even though enrolment is on a decline board-wide, increased density in neighbourhoods such as the Olympic Village, are pushing up school populations at select Vancouver elementary schools. (Tamara Baluja/CBC News)

"I guess it's surprising in the sense that we as a district are still actually in the middle of declining enrolment," he said.

"Overall, what we're seeing now is that we're very slowly district-wide starting to see a rebound of our elementary school numbers with quite a healthy kindergarten registration."

The problem is compounded by the fact the province provides funding to build new schools based on existing populations, Nelson said. 

While the school board anticipates several of its schools will be over capacity in less than a decade, it can do little to plan ahead. 

According to an emailed statement from the B.C. Ministry of Education, the province weighs the capital needs of a school board against the priorities from all other districts and takes into account projected enrolment growth, school facility conditions and the utilization rate of existing space before allocating funds.

Nelson recommends parents with kindergartners should register them at their neighbourhood school by the end of January for school commencing next fall.

In the meantime, the VSB is trying to find space within existing schools.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of the chart featured in the story used incorrect data for some of the schools. This has now been changed. The overall trajectory of the graph remains the same.
    Dec 17, 2014 7:19 PM PT

With files from Meera Bains and Tamara Baluja

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