The Vancouver school district is optimistic it can accommodate most of the roughly 50 students on Elsie Roy elementary school's waiting list for 2012/13 thanks to an addition on the school.
But the new International Village school will need to be built as soon as possible to manage the increasing school-aged population downtown.
Yaletown's Elsie Roy at 150 Drake St. has had to turn away some neighbourhood students since it opened in 2004 even though the Vancouver School Board shrunk its catchment area. It wasn't built large enough to handle demand. Its original capacity was 350 students, which has jumped to 413 with the new addition. But it's still not large enough.
More families are choosing to live downtown rather than move to more suburban areas when they have children, which significantly strains downtown schools.
Deputy superintendent Jordan Tinney said the district is figuring out how to deal with Elsie Roy's waiting list.
"We're actually in the process right now of adding two kindergarten classes to use up all of the additional space that was developed at Elsie Roy," he told the Courier Monday. "That will basically take 44 off the [waiting] list right away."
Some of the students who registered for September enrolment may have also applied to and been accepted to district programs such as French immersion or Montessori and haven't informed Elsie Roy yet, which could further reduce the list. "We're also working with False Creek, Hudson and Roberts [elementary schools] to find out if there are any other available spaces. We don't have the final numbers there especially around Hudson," he said. Tinney added that the long-term goal is to get the International Village school built.
Late last year, the provincial government announced approval for a long-awaited elementary school in the International Village neighbourhood. The school site, which is owned by the city, is located at 600 Abbott St., near Andy Livingstone Park. Timeline details weren't included in the announcement.
Tinney explained that if Elsie Roy continues to accept 70 to 80 kindergarten students each year, the school won't be able to handle the increased enrolment as the students move up in grades. "So our focus needs to be on getting International Village built as quickly as possible. Our board advocated it, they've got it and we just need to get it built," he said.
Tinney asked the district's director via email on the weekend if September 2013 was a realistic opening date for an International Village school. "His comment was, 'That's aggressive, but we need to give it every possible chance we can.' We just want to get at it as quickly as we can."
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