North Van school catchment areas may change

Lions Gate Village and Lynn Valley boundaries affected

In response to growing enrolment pressures, the North Vancouver School District is looking at changing the boundaries that determine where some students attend school.

The changes would affect two areas of the school district, and would change the catchment boundaries between Capilano and Norgate elementary schools in the lower Capilano area of the school district, and between Lynn Valley and Eastview elementary schools in the valley.

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Both changes are being looked at to balance enrolment between schools that are overcrowded with schools nearby that are under-used.

Capilano and Lynn Valley aren’t the only overcrowded schools in North Vancouver. Most elementary schools in the school district are near or over capacity, with schools like Ridgeway, Queensbury, Larson, Ross Road and Cove Cliff schools especially squeezed. But usually, nearby schools are also full.

In the case where the two catchment changes are being considered, nearby schools are relatively empty.

Over time, changing demographics and development patterns of certain neighbourhoods have contributed to the imbalance, said Deneka Michaud, spokeswoman for the school district. In some cases, programs like Capilano’s International Baccalaureate program, started eight years ago, attracted families to the neighbourhood.

For the past several years, enrolment pressures have meant neither Capilano nor Lynn Valley schools enrolled students who didn’t live in their catchment areas, unless the student was already attending the school or had a sibling who did.

New developments slated for areas in both lower Capilano and Lynn Valley are expected to further boost enrolment.

According to enrolment forecasts, if no changes are made, enrolment at Capilano Elementary is expected to be over 100 per cent at 490 students by 2025, said Michaud, and will go up from there.

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Neighbourhoods affected by changes to school catchment areas fall into the study area. graphic Birgit Brunner, North Shore News

Lynn Valley – already overcrowded – is expected to be operating at 140 per cent of capacity by 2025 if no changes are made. There are already four portables at Lynn Valley Elementary.

But Michaud said the province also usually won’t pay for more portables if nearby schools still have space available.

In contrast, neighbouring schools of both Capilano and Lynn Valley are among the most under-utilized in the school district. Norgate currently operates at about 53 per cent capacity while Eastview operates at about 62 per cent.

In the case of Capilano/Norgate, the proposed catchment change involves an area west of Capilano Road between Marine Drive and the Upper Levels Highway, including Fullerton Avenue, the Woodcroft apartment complex area and the emerging Lions Gate Village neighbourhood with townhouse developments on Glenaire Drive and Belle Isle Place as well as apartment towers on Marine Drive.

In the case of Lynn Valley/Eastview, the catchment change would involve an area near Fromme Road and East 27th Street, including Whiteley Court, with Kirkstone Park to the south and Lynn Valley Road to the northwest.

Michaud said even if the catchment areas change, students already attending Capilano or Lynn Valley will be allowed to stay there, as will any of their siblings.

The change would be gradual, she said, and affect new families moving into the neighbourhoods, so the impact on enrolment would increase over time.

The school district projects that if the catchment is changed, 10 years from now, Norgate will be operating at 99 per cent capacity, while Capilano will be at 85. Similarly, under the changed catchments, in a decade Eastview would be at 80 per cent capacity while Lynn Valley would still be at 119.

In the case of Lynn Valley, students who live in the changed catchment area would also eventually be attending a different high school when they complete elementary school – Sutherland instead of Argyle.

If approved by the school district, the changes would go into effect for the 2020/2021 school year.

The last time the school district adjusted catchment areas was in 2010 following the closure of Plymouth elementary school in the Windsor Park neighbourhood.

Information has gone out to parents, and two community meetings are planned to receive feedback.

The meeting on the lower Capilano catchment change is Thursday, May 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Norgate Elementary on Sowden Street. The meeting on the Lynn Valley catchment change happens Thursday, May 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Eastview Elementary on Mountain Highway.

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