Declining Enrolment?

Vancouver, September 5, 2006---A short hour after my 9-year-old son was refused a space at the elementary school in our Fairview Slopes catchement area because it was filled to capacity, I read in the Vancouver Sun that enrolment in BC's public schools is "sliding."

The writer, Janet Steffenhagen, describes exploding enrolment in "a small corner of Langley," bucking a five-year provincial trend of declining student enrolment. But Steffenhagen needn't have traveled so far to find an example of "exploding" enrolment. I found it right here between Cambie and Oak.

It didn't make sense. Such a brief moment earlier, the secretary at Edith Cavell School in the Cambie area, the school in my catchement, sorrowfully informed me that the school is filled to capacity. She called later to say that the spillover school, Emily Carr, is also full.

A student or two might not show up for Grade 5, she said. Then my son would get lucky and gain the unused spot. Or, the students might all show up.

Meanwhile, they routed my child to a "holding school" where they were also directing another disappointed family, whose Grade 2 children were being wait listed (along with us) at Edith Cavell.

"Holding school" sounded a little too much like "holding pen" to me. I took the kid home.

Since I couldn't find sliding enrolment in the elementary schools in my catchement, I thought I'd take a peek at the high school. Eric Hamber is also packed with a waiting list. I wondered what was happening further west.

Ditto for Kitsilano High School.

I didn't have time to find out about other schools. I had too much to do, structuring the day for my as yet school-less, or, as he happily described it, "school free", unassigned Grade Fiver.


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