By the time it opened in September

By the time it opened in September

Schools keeping up with student numbers, district says

Secretary-treasurer tells council the system has accurately forecast increases

The Langley School District is keeping up with a rapidly-growing number of students and the computer modelling it uses to predict that growth has been accurate, Township council was told Monday.

But that doesn’t mean parents can expect their children will be able to walk to school, secretary-treasurer David Green said.

Parents can be assured their children will attend schools within the catchment areas set by the district, but they may have to be driven to school or take a school bus, Green explained.

“We may not be able to accommodate them in particular schools, but we can accommodate them in the district,” Green said.

Green was responding to questions from council after giving a slide show presentation to explain how the district uses computer software and sample neighbourhoods to generate projections of student growth in the district, numbers it uses to lobby the provincial government to justify new school construction.

Those numbers have been “remarkably close” to the actual increase in students, Green said.

Most schools have been within 20 or 30 students of their projected populations, Green said.

Among other things, the system tracks a sample of more than 400 single family houses in the Yorkson neighbourhood within the rapidly-growing Willoughby area of the township, carrying out a yearly survey of the number of school-age children.

“It is a limited sample,” Green conceded under questioning by council, but he doubted the numbers would be any more accurate if a larger sample was used, and that would be a “time-consuming” process.

Asked about the new middle school in Yorkson, which is already over capacity, Green said there was available room in other schools within the district.

“They can be accommodated elsewhere, somehow,” Green said.

“Lynn Fripps is not filled right now,” he noted, even though the new school came online three years ago.

Building another school was up to the provincial ministry of education, and it is not likely to happen any time soon, Green indicated.

“We don’t have the funding to build an elementary school [in Willoughby] right now,” Green said.

“The ministry is the defining factor.”

The school district was invited to explain how it generates student size projections because some members of council were concerned about the ability of the district to accommodate population growth in rapidly-expanding neighborhoods.

While Green took questions, Langley Board of Education chair Rob McFarlane and district superintendent of schools and CEO Suzanne Hoffman watched from the audience.