On Cross-boundary Enrolments

Frances Bula on the “Highlights of the NPA day”

In response to public comments by two school board candidates:

On the east-side exodus: candidates and commentators need to do a thorough job of studying the actual data. I have and, the situation is not a tidal wave of students flooding west. Is there cross boundary movement? Yes, there is. Is it a massive move from the depths of the poorest to the heights of the richest area schools? No, it is not.

However, the simplicity of blaming west-side for east side woes is compelling for those commentators not interested in the complexities of reality. Please keep in mind that much of this east/west so-called conflict is a serious error in perception not supported in real terms as there is no monolithic ‘west-side’ -there are pockets of wealth such as around Dunbar Heights, areas of West Point Grey, Shaunessy, SW Marine Drive, but in today’s Vancouver they are isolates and do not define an entire area).

To get a sense of what is actually happening a couple things have to be understood. First, there are district programs that draw directly from a cross-district student population. These programs, like French Immersion, High School Mini-Schools, International Baccalaureate, Alternative Education programs (Total and Ideal or Bing Satellite, for example), Montessori, Special Ed (Access, GLD, ELAC, for example). These programs pull from a wide area of the district. For some schools, Like Churchill and Kitsilano Secondaries cross boundary can be a high proportion of the overall student population. These are, in fact only one portion of total cross-boundary enrolments.

The second category is from one regular program to another regular program. On this score the Vancouver School Board data shows that if a student moves boundaries the move is typically from home school to a school whose’ catchment is adjoin the home school. This is not a major east to west drain.

Many of the readers of this blog will likely find the complexities and details more then they asked for. But it seems to me that people should inform themselves of the reality and the real evidence before making blind statements based upon their assumptions and misconceptions. Consider the follow data sheets from the UBC/UEL area to get a sense of some of the complexity of movement. Download special needs and ESL student data. Download UBC/UEL student data.

One other thing – there is another series element of cross-boundary enrolment that is being overlook and downplayed in this east-to-west- claim; it’s the west-to-east forced movement of several hundred children from the University area. Since we are not part of Vancouver proper we do seem to get ignored. But for about half a decade a growing problem of under-capacity in our local schools has led to hundreds of children of elementary level being bussed to schools more than 10 kilometers away. At the high school level this is contributing to overcrowding at nearby Byng Secondary where students will likely soon find themselves being forced further east again.

Last year, partly in jest, I suggested that high school students should be shipped east in order to solve the overcrowding at U Hill Secondary. Who knows, perhaps we will start to see happen because there is not immediate solution.

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