LETTER – Comox Valley school district should consider better forecasting method

Dear editor,

Your article regarding the lack of space in public schools in the Comox Valley, (Changes recommended for four schools to ease capacity, Feb 25, 2020) did not mention the fact that during the Liberal regime public school closures were justified by forecasts of declining enrolment – forecasts of under capacity.

Are forecasters using scientific methods? Or crystal balls? Should forecasts be verifiable?

The Comox Valley School District 71 – Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP) 2018 – 2027, 2017 report states “…three different enrolment projections for the Comox Valley for the next five and 10 years show wildly varying percentage changes…”

Perhaps citizens should be allowed to see how enrolment forecasts are created?

Access to methods and data is useful not only to ensure correct methods and data accompany findings, but to be able to understand their strengths and weaknesses – to understand what the numbers represent.

The Population Projections Project, developed in the Qualicum SD to provide verifiable projections, is based on open data, as reliable as possible (the census of population), using an easy (arithmetic) method to calculate several well-defined possible future scenarios. In 2012, the PPP projected that in 2016 the number of people five to 19 years of age (the age group used in SD71 LRFP) in Courtenay to be 3,739 (average growth scenario). The actual 2016 census counted 3,760 – less than a half per cent off.

This does not mean that the PPP pretends to foretell the future but rather that the population change from 2011 to 2016 reflected the average change over the previous 20 years. Far more informative than unsupported numbers.

Like the list of ingredients for processed foods, a list of ingredients for processed numbers should be commonplace.

William Warren Munroe,

Former BC Statistics population analyst,

Qualicum Beach

Do you have an opinion you’d like to share? Email letters@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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