With an expected growth in the number of students entering the Victoria School District and the reduced class composition size SD61 is reranking which students have enrolment priority. File photo of Glanford middle school students.

Victoria School District eyes new priorities for student-siblings

Realigned priority list for enrolling students won’t please all

The Victoria School District has decided on a proposal to permanently re-rank which students have enrolment priority after its initial proposal drew many concerns from parents.

On Monday night the SD61 operations and planning committee chose to forward a recommendation to adopt the new ranking of priorities for adoption at the board of education meeting on June 26, said superintendent Piet Langstraat.

The new ranking breaks apart the siblings of younger students who are both in and out of the catchment area, as they were previously lumped together in a proposal that came out this spring. In that proposal, a catchment area child took priority over all siblings.

The proposed student enrolment priorities for introduction in the 2018/19 school year are: re-enrolling students; a catchment area sibling; a catchment area child; a non-catchment sibling; a non-catchment child; a non-school district child.

While it’s a step in the right direction, Drea Prizeman, parent of a Campus View elementary student (with children yet to enrol), said there are more issues at hand.

“I think many parents will feel more satisfied with these revisions, however, [there are] issues that are still problematic,” Prizeman said.

“The real issue here is a lack of space, and the district has not done its due diligence in presenting the data that supports there is a need to change the enrolment priorities in the first place. Build the capacity [create spaces] and then review whether enrolment is working or not, not the other way around.”

There’s also a desire from SD61 to understand how enrolment priorities affect space, as more schools could be opened, which led to a discussion about grandfathering sibling enrolment priority for parents of current students.

Until lately the student enrolment priorities of SD61 were of little importance and weren’t reviewed for decades due to declining enrolment. It meant most SD61 schools could accommodate a family’s choice of schools. However, with growing enrolment in recent years, and an expected increase of 2,000 students in the next 10 years, space will becoming limited at some schools. Add to that the Supreme Court ruling, which is limiting class size and composition.

The new enrolment priorities would apply to new registrations, transfer requests and student transitions between elementary and middle, and middle and high school for English and French programs.

Prizeman noted if more schools open then families could be affected when catchment lines are changed. For example, an in-catchment family with one child enrolled at Doncaster elementary could find their second child within the catchment for Richmond.

Langstraat said the trustees decided not to recommend grandfathering the families of current students as it could be 15 to 20 years to complete the transition.

The public is welcome to attend the board of education meeting on June 26. Written feedback is also welcome to trustees@sd61.bc.ca.