Enrolment in Vancouver’s public schools has declined over the past five years and will not return to its peak numbers because fewer school-aged children live in the city, reports the Vancouver School Board’s associate superintendent Scott Robinson.
“Accordingly, the district cannot retain or regain students who don’t exist in the first place,” said a memorandum from Robinson to the board’s management coordinating committee Dec. 10.
The Vancouver School Board, which serves 54,000 elementary and secondary students, reported a drop of 788 pupils this fall.
Nearly 1,000 fewer students entered kindergarten in 2012 (3,756) than the number leaving Grade 12 (4,753).
The district is seeing “marginal growth” in kindergarten to Grade 3 enrolment but overall numbers are expected to continue decreasing for at least three more years as secondary school enrolment declines and elementary enrolment stabilizes.
Approximately 80 per cent of school-aged children in the city are enrolled in VSB schools and the board reports data up to 2011 indicates public schools have maintained their market share of students over the past 10 years.
Most schools try to determine where “missing” students have gone but there’s no systematic tracking district wide. A more systematic method of tracking students, developed in consultation with schools, is proposed along with an exit survey and the sharing of the best ways with which to welcome incoming families. Robinson expects staff will bring an update on these proposals back to the committee in March.
Bus driver appreciation
Teenagers in Van Tech’s Summit mini school for academically gifted and motivated grade 8 through 10 students plan to roll out of bed early on their last day of school before the holiday break, Dec. 21, to make hot chocolate for the bus drivers whose vehicles trundle along busy Broadway.
“Van Tech is the only school located directly on the Broadway transit corridor and a high percentage of our students use public transit for at least part of their commutes to and from school,” noted Van Tech Summit mini school teacher and math department head Terry Stanway in an email.
The giveaway is an annual tradition started in 1997 by a now retired social studies and geography teacher, Rod McNeil, who promoted student leadership with the mini school and student council.
McNeil, incidentally, is the husband of Mary McNeil, B.C. Liberal MLA for Vancouver-False Creek.