Qualicum School District Facility Review
Is the unfounded forecast pretending to foretell the future?
by William Warren Munroe, February 27, 2014

The February 24, 2014 public meeting to address the recommendations to close schools in the Qualicum School District was cancelled due to snow; therefore the next day, I sent my concerns about the enrolment forecast used to justify the need to close four schools.

Of concern is the method used to create the forecast, or rather the lack of the method used as it is not referenced in the facility review document1.

Figure 1. Comparison of Qualicum School District enrolment forecasts referred to during the 2010 and the 2013 facility reviews

Also of concern is why the revised forecast (the brown line) is lower than the forecast from the previous facility review in 2010 (the red line)2.

"Forecasting pretends to foretell the future, while the projection is an analytic tool which -- within the constraints of a tightly specified model -- enables the analyst to consider the implications of alternative scenarios. The issue of scenarios is important: in order to underline the analytic character of projections, it is our policy to publish always a set of possible projections, each corresponding to a well defined an analytic scenario." (Ivan Fellegi, 1999)3

Before a school is closed referring to numbers that cannot be openly validated by public consultation participants including students, teachers, parents/guardians, and concerned citizens, should projections with published analytic scenarios based on current trends be allowed to be included in the facility review?

What do you think?

See the letter to the Qualicum School District Board of Trustees, February 25, 2014 (follow up sent February 26, 2014 - received 2012/13 and 2013/14 enrolment counts - thank you Mr. Koop)

See the letter to the Qualicum School District Board of Trustees, February 27, 2014

Endnotes and Sources:

1 Qualicum School District "Facility Review Process" November 2013 at www.sd69.bc.ca/Publications/Facility%20Review%202013%20-%20Finance%20and%20Facility%20Planning/13.11.26%20Facilities%20Review%20Presentation.pdf

2The red line represents the forecast provided in 2010.

The new lower forecast numbers presented in 2013 is represented by the brown line.

On page 2 of Qualicum School District "Facility Review Process" (2013), we are told that in 2017 the enrolment will be 3,758 students, lower than the 3,920 forecast in 2010.

Also, the new lower forecast foretells that in 2018, and 2023 the enrolment will be 3,782 and 3,942 respectively and in 2027 the enrolment will be 4,030 students; however, the method used to create these numbers is not provided.

Also the 2027 forecast provided in 2013 is 55 more than the 2013 enrolment count of 3,975; therefore while the Ministry of Health shows a 31% increase in total population the number of school aged children is forecast to increase by 1.5%

The other lines were created by the author developed from additional information described in the article "Population Change and the Fluctuating Enrolment".

The forecast ( the red line ) was developed with reference to BC Statistics' forecast. The method used by BC Statistics to create the forecast is based on the post census population estimate for the Qualicum School District - population estimates for the years after the 2006 census. Unfortunately, the method used to create the population numbers after the 2006 census was not the method provided. See Why Verify Official Population Projections presented at the 2013 Congress, Methods For Projections session hosted by the Canadian Population Society.

May I suggest including scenarios created using the methods and data used in the Population Projection Project (PPP).

3 Analytic Activities At Statistics Canada, Ivan Fellegi, former Chief Statistician, Statistics Canada, Conference Of European Statisticians, June 1999

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