Letter: Schools should be built to population predictions

Myth of declining enrolment led to today's over-populated schools

Re: New Oak Bay High spilling over with students, Oak Bay News, Sept. 30

The new Oak Bay High is wonderful and already overcrowded.

The BC Liberals created the myth of declining enrolment and have used it as an excuse to cut funding, pack kids into portables, and under-build schools.

In 2002/3 then Education Minister Christy Clark halved capital funding for K to 12 from $450 to $225 million per year.

Inflation hovered just under two per cent through a decade of further cuts.

Districts requesting new schools were told they must “bring money to the table” to qualify, thereby forcing the closure and sell-off of school lands.

In truth there was a temporary dip in enrollment of just under seven per cent that ended in 2007.

About 2005, echo-boomers turned 30 and began families in earnest.

Enrollment will increase until 2028 and beyond. In Vancouver more than two-dozen schools already operate between 100 and 150 per cent capacity.

In 2008, Gordon Campbell created Neighbourhood Learning Centre funding (originally intended to help save schools in small towns).

Much of the funding went to urban schools in Liberal ridings. Without this Oak Bay High would have been even smaller!

Selling public assets to create the illusion of balanced budgets has become a B.C. Liberal trademark.

This is not a sustainable business model.

Imagine a future where every kid gets a fair shot at life, where schools are built to true population predictions — a future with strong public education.

If we fail our children, everyone, rich and poor alike, will suffer.

Jessica Van der Veen,

LANDS! (Let’s Agree Not to Dispose of Schools!)

Oak Bay