Facing the facilities crisis

Politicians have pushed the decision deadline on rebuilding University Hill Secondary to the very last minute. U Hill students will be busy writing year end exams by the time trustees finally grapple with the tough decision of whether or not they will rebuild much need infrastructure or not.

Given the push back from west-side voters the likelihood of having much needed facilities anytime soon for hundreds of ‘surplus’ students is diminishing.

Maye it’s time for a rethink. Maybe it’s time for a radical solution that will simultaneously tackle Vancouver’s surplus school capacity, growing population of school children in Vancouver west of Blanca, and allow a group of kindergarten and primary parents to hold onto to their school.My apologies if this seems extreme or, perhaps, even verging on satire. However, given the apparent lack of political will to do what is needed regarding U Hill combined with the strong political intervention of politically well placed parents it seems that it may well be time for a different approach. It is likely that back room discussions are proceeding and special deals may be in the making. One can always hope. In the meantime realists need to consider what can in fact be done if there is no money to rebuild the NRC building at UBC into a new secondary school

If the sale of the annex is not approved the need for school spaces west of Blanca will still be there. The funding issue will also very likely remain. So, how do we meet the need for school capacity that is growing in the campus area?

It seems that there is greater public tolerance for shifting high school students than there is for shifting elementary students. We have clearly seen that suggesting the movement of primary students produces ripples of outrage that are hard for most politicians to confront. So why not move the high school students east?

Here’s an idea on how it might be done. It’s a rough idea and will obviously require tinkering.

  • (1) Decommission U Hill Secondary as a secondary and convert into a needed elementary school for 450 plus students (keep portables on site as they will be needed). Do not build new secondary at UBC at this time. The district figures show that there are 2200 more spaces than secondary students thus this would allow the Board to immediately cut overall surplus capacity. This approach could potentially also be applied to one of the other low enrolment secondary schools if necessary.
  • (2) Shift High School catchments boundaries eastward. This can be accomplished through modest rearrangement of the elementary feeder schools of Byng, PW, Kits, Point Grey, Hamber and Tupper. Some additional adjustments, perhaps involving relocation of choice programs to underutilized facilities, would be in order.
    • Byng takes feeder schools from QM, UHE(1) and UHE(2)
    • PW takes QE, Kitchener, and Trafalgar (loses Carnarvon and Shaghnessy and TREK)
    • Carnarvon is shifted to Kits along with Trafalgar students living north of King Ed.
    • PG takes southland and Kerrisdale (loses Qulchena) and any over capacity remaining at Byng from U Hill influx.
    • Hamber picks up Shaughnesy and PW Trek and Quilchena
    • Tupper picks up Fraser and Wolfe
    • John Oliver picks up Van Horne and Sexsmith (allow some shifting from Magee to
    • Churchill and then spill over of some PG into Magee)
  • (3) Review of district programs, such as FI, IB, Mini’s, and reassignment of these programs to facilities that are being underutilized. Given that many participants in this district programs are already traveling out of catchments, further displacement may, in some cases actually place programs closer to students. Also, since these are choice programs there is no underlying principle that would support need to locate such programs close to student home address. Rationale reallocation of student to underutilized facilities thus makes good sense.
  • (4) Public accepts movement of several thousand high school students as these students are resilient and easily portable and plan will preserve primary annex in well off Dunbar area –thus removing the need to sell public land or close annex. Province appreciates the innovative and flexible approach Board takes to issue of under utilization of facilities at Tupper, Hamber, and John Oliver.

If the EFR–Phase One plans go ahead none of the above need apply. But, perhaps it is reasonable to do a major redesign rather than a minor re-tinkering?

Background Documents.
2007 enrolment date for VSB secondary schools.Download file
VSB school catchment map.Download file

2 thoughts on “Facing the facilities crisis

  1. Pingback: In Support of Public Education » Blog Archive » Facing the facilities crisis - MRK II

  2. Pingback: In Support of Public Education » Blog Archive » On Cross-boundary Enrolments

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