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McBride, Howay families invited to offer input on school catchment changes

New Westminster school district looking at ways to increase enrolment at F.W. Howay and reduce pressure on the growing Richard McBride
richard McBride construction Jan. 10 4
Construction of the new Richard McBride Elementary School is underway at the Sapperton site. The New Westminster school district is looking at ways to reduce enrolment pressure on McBride and increase student numbers at F.W. Howay Elementary School.

Families are being invited to give input on a proposed catchment boundary change that would affect New Westminster’s two east-end schools.

The New Westminster school district is trying to find ways to balance enrolment at F.W. Howay Elementary School in Massey Victory Heights and Richard McBride Elementary School in Sapperton.

With 117 students right now, Howay has been struggling to keep enrolment up and has been operating at about 70% capacity. The opposite is true at Richard McBride, where the current enrolment of 419 students sees the school sitting at about 90% capacity – a number that’s only projected to grow.

The school district is proposing to take a chunk of the current McBride catchment – the area currently bounded by McBride Boulevard, East Eighth Avenue, Cumberland Street and Blackberry Drive – and shift it to Howay.

Howay families are invited to take part in a community consultation meeting by Zoom on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.; McBride families can attend a Zoom session on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m.

Anyone who wants to offer feedback can also do so via an online form that must be filled out by Friday, Jan. 22 at 4 p.m.

If adopted, the proposed changes will come into effect for the 2021/22 school year but will not affect current students. Current students can remain at their existing school, and younger siblings in those families will also have the choice to remain at the existing location.

The school district says the plan would see McBride’s enrolment decline to about 403 students by 2034, while Howay’s would increase to 150 in the same time frame.

The district also considered two other options: one taking the northeast corner of the McBride catchment and switching it to Howay; the other changing the boundaries of the current Herbert Spencer Elementary School catchment to send more students to Howay.

Neither of those alternatives, however, were found to meet the district’s goals for projected enrolment.