Q6 for Better Schools: CAPACITY

BETTER LANGLEY: The school board currently projects an average of approximately 1 school age child for every 6 condo units. Due to this, in 2021, the school board budgeted for the projected 20,996 instead of the actual 21,666 – a difference of 663 children – something that SD staff were “surprised” by. With more children living in condos, will you advocate to the Ministry of Education for a revision to the outdated algorithm currently used for projecting school aged children in new developments? 


A note about highlighted answers: Better Langley favourites are selected based on discussions with dozens of parents, teachers, local politicians. Each question had select criteria that the aforementioned stakeholders found to be of the greatest importance and I have done my best to represent these. Additionally, my own academic background in political science, philosophy, religious studies, and real estate all provide its own knowledge base, process of critical thought, and, yes, biases. In order to reduce personal bias toward any candidate or organization, however, answers were read anonymously, separate from the candidate before selecting a “favourite” to highlight.


RAI (Contract with Langley): Yes as the current models are becoming out dated. The school districts should strive to always be updating their algorithms and models with changes that are happening.

LOCKHART (Independent): Currently the district relies on Baragar Systems for their analytics to determine school building starts. The metrics used are too linear in their approach and in my mind, do not take into the nuances of enrollment like the pandemic we just experienced, or inflationary impacts on local habitation trends. Put frankly, housing is expensive. More people are living in less space, simply due to the cost. It is archaic to account for less than one child per condo/apartment style dwelling in 2022 and shortsighted (and honestly, a bit ignorant of the current economic pressures families face today).

All of our K-5 schools in Willoughby have over 500 students, our district just spent 1.5 million dollars on portable classrooms. North Langley is the fastest growing area, of the fastest growing municipality in the Metro Van. I question why we have not adjusted our staffing and enrollment numbers to reflect this growth. Student projections, based on Covid enrollment numbers seem to be a bit shortsighted. Even a simplistic calculation of pre-pandemic enrollment, multiplied by an increase in school aged children demographic over the two years, would have yielded more accurate numbers.

We need to advocate to the Ministry of Education for a revision to the outdated algorithm. I am ready and waiting to use my decade plus of advocacy experience at the Provincial and Federal Levels (for Public and First Responder Health and Safety) to assist our Board in doing just that.

PERREAULT (Independent): The standing Board along with our dedicated Leadership Team, as a whole has worked actively toward advocacy on this conversation within our powers. I commit to do so should I be elected to serve our community in a collaborative manner while seeking to draw in our co-governing partners to the conversation to expand it.

DICKINSON (Contract with Langley): YES! I wonder the “surprise” comment came from? feel like claiming the gap is a “surprise” is not only untrue, but an unacceptable response. It is clearly evident that new builds equals more students than forecasted.

We must continue to lobby the Ministry of Education for a change to the antiquated systems currently used for growth projections. The Ministry does not take growth into account – they build schools for the population at the time and not the projected population. Districts are required to use a formula that does not account for rapid development or inflation. At the very least it would be a step forward if they considered GDP in the funding model. Clearly, what they are using is not working. New schools all over the province are opening with portables already on-site. It is clear that the only way to get a handle on this problem is for the MoE to make systemic changes to their projection and funding models.

TURNER (Independent): Due to the issues with your online account, I have chosen not to fill out the survey.

WAKELIN (Independent): Yes, I would. I would also agree that the area standards (a government policy that decides the maximum space allocation for all new and replacement schools in BC) issue must be addressed. When we are building schools that are too small, we are wasting funds and doing a disservice to the community. Often we speak of the densification of neighbourhoods, building “up” instead of sprawling out. Perhaps we need to reconsider how we envision our school structures. Adding space to make adequate classrooms and childcare spaces mandatory.

WILSON (Independent): The projection or forecast that the district makes is done in consultation with Baragar Systems using past trends in equivalent housing types, birth rates, etc. In the 2021 school year most districts predicted no new growth due to the uncertainty of COVID and whether or not parents would feel comfortable sending their children back into a physical school setting. The Ministry of Education also does not fund based on projections, they fund based on actual students who show up to school; so if the budget estimate is higher than the actual students that show up to school, the district would then need to lay off staff (in several areas) as well as it impacting all sorts of supply costs, that would have a devastating impact on the resources and outcomes for students. Many other factors played a role into the higher than projected enrolment last school year, including a large number of students moving to the Langley area over the summer. Very few districts in this province are experiencing the rapid growth that Langley is experiencing. Ultimately the district will always be conservative in its estimate to avoid laying staff off, and in the end, it doesn’t matter how many students are “projected” because until those students actually show up at a school it doesn’t generate any funds or trigger the process for building more school infrastructure. I will continue to advocate to the Ministry to revamp the existing system that is used to determine when to build schools, because I think everyone can agree the current system of waiting till you are in a state of crisis with portables and overcrowding, and then determining that a new school is necessary…. clearly isn’t working, or in the best interest of children.

ROSS (Independent): Not sure where you have gotten your information but the Ministry of Education / Finance ONLY fund schools when they see the “whites of their eyes”. Funding is not based on formulas and algorithms and forecasts. We need schools now and the current Board has received more support from the current Minister Whiteside than we have ever experienced with any previous minister.

FOX (Independent): I have no difficulty advocating for continued review and updating of the current formula and process for calculating potential student enrollment derived from growth within our community.

NEUFELD (Contract with Langley): Yes.

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