Thursday, October 7, 2010

Optimal Enrolment Limits for schools

Last year,  I argued that we needed to use accurate, reliable and realistic capacity numbers for schools.  I argued that the provincially calculated ACU was woefully inaccurate and presented a false picture of underutilized space in the District because it included non-teaching space like hallways in its calculations. I argued that it was physically impossible and educationally irresponsible to even CONSIDER filling schools to the ACU number. Although our funding is tied to this calculation,  I argued that we should not be using it to make critical decisions about combining school populations in closure scenarios.

I argued that the ACOL capacity was more realistic, as it was calculated by multiplying the number of actual classrooms in a school by the Alberta Commission on Learning recommended class size for those grades. (12 classrooms X 20 students in a class = school capacity of 240)

I also argued that the even-finer calculation called Optimal Enrolment Limit (OEL) was ideal. The OEL  is a number devised by the Principal and the Planning Department, looking at the on-the-ground realities schools are facing. It allows for adjustments, for instance, for special needs students in designated sites, who are not expected to operate in a classroom of 20. For their educational needs, smaller class sizes are essential. It also takes into consideration multiple programs offered at a school and ensures that if a child starts in Kindergarten in an alternative program that there will be room for them all the way until grade 6.  OEL is a practical, real number for individual schools to prevent over-crowding. And surely, that is what we all want.

Just to give some concrete examples, so you can understand how wildy varying these three capacity measures are, here are three examples in my ward:

Westminster (ACU: 837, ACOL: 650, OEL: 535)
Westglen Elementary (ACU: 452, ACOL: 300, OEL: 240)
Parkview (ACU: 957, ACOL: 855, OEL: 725)

I pushed the issue and the Board agreed to use all three numbers in school closure discussions. Therefore, I was disappointed to see when I attended a sector review meeting last week,  that only ACU and ACOL numbers were listed on the map on each table. I searched through the sheets available on the table, found OEL numbers and wrote them onto the map at the table I was sitting at. However, I am guessing that most tables were continuing to explore options using the ACU and ACOL, without the benefit of realizing that some of the schools in Ward C are already over-capacity according to their OEL. To add more students to these schools would be unthinkable. When you need to ensure space for children not only for this year, but every year, it is not simply a matter of adding X and Y together to get Z.  As you can see below, some schools have enrolment limits set for the entire school with no caveats, some have notes about limits for specific programs or even specific grades.  The capacity of the school is far more complex than many might think!

As well, it's worth noting that several schools are "small by design". Their optimal enrolment is under or around 200. So, again, a school's enrolment that may look small on paper (and seem empty according to the ACU) but it is actually full. You could not increase enrolment without risking over-crowding.

I hope the next board will take the important step of discontinuing the use of the ACU in any school closure considerations and only use ACOL and OEL. Encouraging the province to complete its review of ACU, improve this measure and adjust funding accordingly is worthy advocacy. But in the meantime, the next board should not feel obligated to measure water with a funnel instead of a measuring cup. 

Here is a list of OEL numbers for EPSB schools as of February 2010. 
Please note:  not all schools within the District have been assigned an OEL.

SCHOOLS WITH OPTIMAL ENROLMENT LIMITS FOR 2010-2011

A. Blair McPherson 850 3 classes per grade

Abbott 250  Kindergarten - 40 Students (1 Cree extended, 1 regular class),Grade 1 - 6-60 students,  Cree extended, 2 regular classes)

Aldergrove 300 Not grade or program specific

Allendale 500 Cogito - 2 classes per grade, German Bilingual - 2 classes per grade

Argyll Not Applicable Traditional Program - 300

Athlone 180 Kindergarten to Gr. 6 - 1 class per grade

Avalon 600 Not grade or program specific

Balwin 475 Not grade or program specific

Baturyn 360 Not grade or program specific

Beacon Heights 150  Kindergarten - 2 classes Early Education - 4 classes Grades 1 to 6 - 1 class per grade

Belgravia 135 Kindergarten - 1 class – 25 Students Grades1 to 3 - 67 Students,Grades 4 to 6 - 51 Students

Belmead 240 Kindergarten- 2 classes – 40 students Grade 1- 1 class

Belmont 310 Logos - 1 class per grade, Regular - 1 class per grade

Bisset 325 Kindergarten - 3 classes, Grades 1 to 6 - 2 classes per grade

Brander Gardens 375 Not grade or program specific

Brookside 330 Not grade or program specific

Caernarvon 420 Mandarin Bilingual - 1 class per grade

Callingwood 275 Not grade or program specific

Centennial 310 Kindergarten - 2 classes

Clara Tyner 175 Not grade or program specific

Crawford Plains 350 Not grade or program specific

Crestwood 415 Elementary - 7 classes, Junior High - 9 classes

D.S MacKenzie 560 200 Students per grade

Daly Grove 375 Not grade or program specific

Dan Knott 500 Not grade or program specific

Delwood 500 French Immersion Program - 2 classes per grade

Dickinsfield 410 Not grade or program specific

Dr. Donald Massey 850 3 classes per grade

Donnan 470 Not grade or program specific

Dovercourt 300 Mandarin Bilingual - 1 class per grade

Dunluce 425 Kindergarten - 1 regular class

Earl Buxton 460 Not grade or program specific

Eastglen 1045 Grade 10 - 350 Students, Grade 11- 350 Students

Edmonton Christian School Senior High Campus 450 Grade 10 - 150 Students

Edmonton Christian School Northeast Campus 581 Not grade or program specific

Edmonton Christian School West Campus 633 Not grade or program specific

Elizabeth Finch 850 3 classes per grade

Elmwood Not Applicable Kindergarten - 30 Students, Grade 1 - 30 Students

Ellerslie Campus 560 Kindergarten - 4 classes, Grade 7 - 2 classes

Esther Starkman 850 3 classes per grade

Evansdale 430 Kindergarten – 55 Students, Grade 1 - 50 Students 2 classes per grade

Florence Hallock School 850 3 classes per grade,

Fraser 300 Not grade or program specific

Garneau 290, Child Study: Kindergarten – 40 students, Grade 1 – 40 students, Grades K to 6 – 10 classes

                       Regular Program: K & 1 – one class per grade

George H. Luck 400 Not grade or program specific

George P. Nicholson 450 Closed Boundaries

Glendale 165 Not grade or program specific

Glengarry 560 Kindergarten - 4 classes

Glenora 190 Not grade or program specific

Grandview Heights 300 Grades 1 - 6, 1 class per grade, Junior High - 2 classes per grade

Greenfield 540 Regular Program - 12 classes, French Immersion Program - 13 classes

Greenview 475 Regular Program - 1 Kindergarten class

French Immersion Program - 2 Kindergarten classes

Harry Ainlay 2185 Grade 10 - 700 Students, Grade 11- 700 Students

Hazeldean Not Applicable Kindergarten - 28 Students, Grade 1 - 22 Students

Hillcrest 500 Not grade or program specific

Hillview 200 Kindergarten - 21 Students, Grade 1 - 25 Students

Holyrood 500, French Immersion Kindergarten - 3 classes, French Immersion Division I - 3 classes per grade, French Immersion Division II - 2 classes per grade, Ukrainian and Regular Programs - 7 classes total

Homesteader 242 Early Education - 50 Students, Elementary 1 class per grade - 182 Students

J.A. Fife 450 French Immersion Program - 1 class per grade

J. Percy Page 1130 Grade 10 - 385 Students, Grade 11- 375 Students

Jackson Heights 310 2 Classes per grade

Jasper Place 2200 Grade 10 - 725 Students, Grade 11- 700 Students

John D. Bracco 600 Not grade or program specific

Johnny Bright 850 3 classes per grade

Julia Kiniski 390 Not grade or program specific

Kate Chegwin 560 Grades 7 to 9 Regular, 6 classes per grade

Keheewin 400 Kindergarten - 2 classes

Kenilworth 450 Not grade or program specific

Kensington 470 Not grade or program specific

Kildare 550 Mandarin Bilingual Kindergarten to 4 - 3 classes per grade, Mandarin Bilingual Grade 5 to 6 - 2 classes per grade

Kirkness 340 Not grade or program specific

Lago Lindo 370 Not grade or program specific

Lansdowne 200 Not grade or program specific

Laurier Heights 500, French Immersion - K to Grade 1 - 2 classes per grade, French Immersion- Grade 7- 1 class, Late French Immersion- Grade 7- 1 class, Regular K to Grade 1 and Grade 7 – 1 class per grade

Lillian Osborne 680 Grade 10 - 340 Students, Grade 11- 340 Students

Londonderry 570 Grade 7 - 190 Students, Mandarin Bilingual - 2 classes per grade

Lorelei 390 Not grade or program specific

Lymburn 425 Not grade or program specific

M.E. LaZerte 1965 Grade 10 - 640 Students, Grade 11- 640 Students

Mary Butterworth 600 Not grade or program specific

Mayfield 300, Early Education 100 Students, Kindergarten - 20 Students, Grades 1 to 6 - 200 Students

McKernan 600 Not grade or program specific

McLeod 360 Not grade or program specific

McNally 1030 Grade 10 - 385 Students, Grade 11- 375 Students

Meyokumin 490 Closed Boundaries Cogito - Kindergarten to Grade 6 – 2 classes, Regular Kindergarten - 1 class, Regular Grade 1- 2 classes, Regular Grades 2 to 6 - 1 class

Meyonohk 440 Not grade or program specific

Michael A. Kostek 460 Kindergarten Division I - 3 classes per grade

Millwoods Christian 710, Division I & II - 350 Students, Division III – 175 Students, Division IV - 185 Students

Minchau 346 Not grade or program specific

Montrose 175 Kindergarten- 1 class

Mount Pleasant 375 Cogito Kindergarten to Grade 6 - 2 classes per grade

Old Scona 360 Grade 10 - 120 Students

Ottewell 732 Grades 7 and 8 classes (240 Students)

Overlanders 270 Not grade or program specific

Parkview 725 Kindergarten Division I, II - 1 class per grade, Grade 7 - 7 classes

Patricia Heights 295 Not grade or program specific

Pollard Meadows 425 Cogito - Kindergarten to Grade 6 - 2 classes per grade, Regular Kindergarten to Grade 6 – 1 class per grade

Prince Charles 295 Not grade or program specific

Queen Elizabeth 1320 Grade 10 - 450 Students, Grade 11- 450 Students

R.J. Scott 140 Regular - 1 class per Kindergarten to Grade 6

Richard Secord 510, Cogito - Kindergarten to Grade 4 - 2 classes per grade, Cogito - Grade 6 - 1 class per grade, French Immersion - 1 class per grade

Rideau Park 245 German Bilingual - 1 class per grade

Rio Terrace 375 Not grade or program specific

Riverbend 630 Challenge - 2 classes per grade (60 Students per grade)

Rosslyn 590 Challenge - 2 classes per grade (60 Students per grade)

Ross Sheppard 1965 Grade 10 - 640 Students, Grade 11- 640 Students,

S. Bruce Smith 645 215 Students per grade

Satoo 300 Kindergarten - 2 classes

Scott Robertson 300 Grade 1 - 25 Students

Sifton 300 Not grade or program specific

Spruce Avenue 325 Kindergarten to Grade 6 - 7 classes, Grade 7 to 9 - 6 classes (Note: THis will be changes as Spruce Avenue is now a 7-9 school only)

Steinhauer 375 Kindergarten to Grade 3 - 3 classes per grade

Stratford 530 3 classes per grade, Kindergarten to Grade 4, 2 classes per grade; Grades 5 to 9

Strathcona 1425 Grade 10 - 450 Students, Grade 11- 450 Students

T.D. Baker 690 Not grade or program specific

Velma E. Baker 340 Kindergarten - 2 classes

Vernon Barford 765 Grade 7 - 240 Students, Challenge - 2 classes per grade (60 Students per grade)

Victoria School of Performing & Visual Arts 900 (High School) Grade 10 - 310 Students, Grade 11- 300 Students

Vimy Ridge 950 Grade 7 to 9- 550 students, Grade 10 to 12- 400 students

Virginia Park 210 Not grade or program specific

W.P Wagner 1460 Grade 10 - 470 Students, Grade 11- 455 Students

Weinlos 375 Not grade or program specific

Westbrook 450 Kindergarten - 2 classes

Westglen 240 Kindergarten- 2 classes

Westminster 535 Grade 7 - 175 Students

Windsor Park 174 Regular - 1 class per grade Kindergarten to 6,

Winterburn 450 Regular Elementary - 1 class per grade, Logos Elementary - 1 class per grade

York 335 Regular - 1 class per grade, Challenge - 1 class per grade

6 comments:

Esmé Comfort said...

Wow. EPSB lost a great trustee. So pleased you are still engaged.

High Park Community Blog said...

Sue

thanks for pointing this out and bringing it out in the light. I agree with what you have posted completely and I think the way you worked out the numbers make so much more sense than what the School board uses right now. Too bad that they skew the numbers for their benefit and not to benefit our children's learning and education.

Kim

Sue Huff said...

Hi High Park Commmunity Blog--
Not sure it's about the school board skewing "the numbers for their benefit"- that implies malice, which I don't think is there, to be honest. I think it's more a matter of complying with the provincial space utilization and funding formulas. The school board administrators work within provincial guidelines, they don't challenge or seek to change them ... (some might argue that is the Board of Trustees' job, but that's another blog!)

Cheryl said...

Hi Sue,
I was at one of the board meetings where you had brought this to light.
Thank you for doing so again particularly when the sector reviews are underway.
I too, hope the new board takes a close look at these numbers.
Cheryl Johner

Jodine said...

Thank you for shedding light on this important issue. I just want to add that sometimes this presentation of irrelevant numbers moves into the realm of farce.

Last spring during the CCEP school closure debate, trustees were directed to the April 13th report recommending closures from the superintendent. http://www.epsb.ca/board/april1310_agenda.shtml.

The number of *elementary* student spaces listed in this report for Victoria School, which is a K-12 school, is 2,565. Then later in the same report the number of *junior high* spaces for Victoria School is also listed 2,565.

The report school trustees used to make their decision indicated double the number of spaces available.

Worse, the number was basically fictitious - a huge chunk of the school was torn down during the rebuild and it is now a significantly smaller school.

I'm not sure why the numbers were even in there, Victoria School wasn't being considered as a possible alternative to house the students of the CCEP schools - it's full and conducts a lottery for most grades.

Sue Huff said...

Hi Jodine,
Just to clarify- I don't think Victoria's numbers had any bearing on the CCEP school closure decision. Victoria was not one of the designated receiving schools and it was not a part of CCEP. In essence, it was not included in the review. I don't recall any trustee referencing it in their arguments. All the trustees were aware of the impact of the renovations on the capacity of Victoria, as we had received many reports and updates on the renos.
So, in my opinion, it had no impact on the decision made by the board.