1. SCHOOL CAPACITY SHOULD BE BASED ON FUNCTIONAL CRITERIA (April 11, 2016)

From: Julee Kaye
Sent: April-11-16 10:04 AM

To: ‘educ.minister@gov.bc.ca’; ‘mike.lombardi@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘allan.wong@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘Janet.fraser@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘fraser.ballantyne@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘christopher.richardson@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘patti.bacchus@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘joy.alexander@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘penny.noble@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘stacy.robertson@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘david.eby.MLA@leg.bc.ca’; ‘andrew.wilkinson.MLA@leg.bc.ca’;
‘communications@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘nbrennan@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘jpearce@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘jstewart@vsb.bc.ca’

Subject: 1. SCHOOL CAPACITY SHOULD BE BASED ON FUNCTIONAL CRITERIA

To VSB’s trustees, our Minister of Education, and my local MLAs:

Disturbingly and maddeningly absent from the VSB and MoE’s long-running feud
about excess capacity is any discussion of possible functional criteria for
the determination of school capacity.

The currently stated capacity for each school site is only an estimate of
the number of students that COULD be accommodated based on floor space. Our
schools should not be managed based on this antiquated and naïve calculation
alone. A more relevant question would be, how many students SHOULD be
accommodated at each school?

Have any of our educational administrators ever even considered what might
be the optimal operating school size for educational and social purposes???
Does the VSB really have too many school sites, or has it simply inherited
overly-large schools which need to be reduced in size during remediation?

AT PRESENT, THERE IS A GROSS SOCIAL DISPARITY IN SCHOOL SIZE ACROSS
VANCOUVER. Whereas no public elementary school on the west-side of Vancouver
has a stated capacity above about 610 students*, 11 elementary schools on
the east-side exceed that, and they range in size up to 955 students!!
Schools like Moberly elementary, for example, can appear to be only 70% full
even when their actual enrolment is already far larger than that of any
west-side school! Administrators apparently look at those numbers and say,
“Ah hah! we can fit 300 more students in Moberly, so we can close a
neighboring school and aggregate all the kids at Moberly”.

But I ask you, does any other district in BC have to aggregate its children
into 1000 place elementary schools in order to get full Ministry funding?

There must by now be many volumes of research on the optimal school sizes
for children of different ages, as well as research on the
community-strengthening roles played by neighborhood schools. Do overly
large, anonymous primary schools harm children and their communities?
Consider that there would have to be 6 kindergarten classes to fill a 1000
place school! Does any Vancouver or BC parent want to send their little kid
to a be one of the 22 kindergarteners in one of the 6 Kindergarten classes
in a school that large? How would the families get to know one another?
There will be no cohesiveness in a community that large and as a result you
should expect more societal problems down the road.

Unless your staff can provide research to support the use of larger
elementary schools, then I propose the following quick fix: cap elementary
school size at a maximum of 500 students. That is the size that can be
supported by an annual intake of 3 kindergarten classes. Then recalculate
how many excess school spaces Vancouver might really have, and move forward
from there.

Excess school space may be destroyed during renovations, boarded up, leased
to compatible users, or used to accommodate VSB administrators BUT MUST NOT
BE SOLD. The one-time cash infusion from the sale of school sites in no way
justifies the permanent loss of their legacy.

Sincerely,
Julee Kaye
(Parent from QEA, JQ, General Gordon, Kerrisdale, Kitsilano & soon Point
Grey)

*Note that the new Norma Rose Point school at UBC operates as two separate
elementary and middle schools.