The Greater Victoria School District released its proposed boundary changes on Tuesday morning, and while most catchments will remain the same, there are a few significant changes.
Among them are repurposing the South Park Family and Cloverdale Traditional schools of choice as well as the Victor (inclusive) schools as regular stream elementary schools (again). At the moment they have district-wide catchments as South Park and Cloverdale are schools of choice while Victor is designated for children, many of whom are medically assisted or are high needs, and who need additional supports for learning.
Here are your new catchments for Cloverdale and South Park elementary schools – as proposed – for Sept. of 2020. It will reshape the core distribution of students to alleviate capacity pressures on Quadra and George Jay, respectively. #yyj pic.twitter.com/kZeh1yHqfy
— travisApaterson (@TravisAPaterson) January 29, 2019
The other big changes are a major shift of Oak Bay High’s catchment to include a former section of Vic High’s catchment (and some switching of the family of schools), and the reopening of the currently-dormant Richmond elementary as a part of Lansdowne middle school (for Grade 6 classes only, to start).
“By adding space at Richmond we would alleviate all the middle school pressures we are currently seeing,” said SD61 secretary-treasurer Mark Walsh. “We don’t know what it would be called, the Richmond campus of Lansdowne, or South Lansdowne campus, but it’s only a 396 metre walk between the schools.”
South Park’s new catchment will cut into George Jay elementary’s current catchment and alleviate pressure on George Jay, which is growing over capacity. Cloverdale will do same for Quadra elementary.
It spells the end of the school of choice privileges that South Park and Cloverdale currently enjoy, such as a unique report card grading system at South Park and the traditional school uniforms worn at Cloverdale, said Walsh.
Parents at South Park were quick to take to social media to share disappointment in the decision.
“First it was the decision to cut late French immersion at two middle schools, including the only one in the city limits of Victoria, and now the decision to turn the crown jewel of the district – South Park Family School, the school’s non-catchment alternative school – into a regular catchment school,” Jeremy Caradonna, parent of two South Park students who lives in Fernwood. “The response from the school community can be described only as outrage.”
Caradonna said a group of South Park parents have aligned to contact the district trustees, school principal, and alumni including MLA Carol James former PAC chair of South Park. We will fight this decision tooth and nail, just as previous generations have had to fight this exact fight.”
Jenn Sutton, chair of South Park PAC, said South Park family school has a long and important history in the community and it would be a big loss.
“We just need to know what our options to work with the district to keep it as a program of choice.”
Audrey Smith, chair of the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, was at the Monday night board meeting at which the proposal was approved for public consultation.
“VCPAC has had three members on the review committee all along, and there has been concessions by everyone to get to this proposal,” Smith said. “There’s been some outside of the box thinking to get and the district is trying to be the least disruptive as possible.”
— Greater Victoria SD (@sd61schools) January 29, 2019
However, that won’t temper the reaction from Cloverdale and South Park parents, she said.
“Everyone who’s being disrupted, it’s real for them.”
Superintendent Shelley Green said the district tried to be thoughtful when considering all of the potential options and outcomes. Unfortunately, Green added, there is no option where everything can remain the same so we are trying to find the best solution.
“We hope through further consultation we are able to find the solutions that accommodate and take into consideration all members of our learning community,” she said.
South Park, which dates back to the early 1900s, was a regular stream elementary school until a few decades ago and has since been a family-themed school. Cloverdale was a regular stream elementary school until 2006.
SD61 will host three open houses for public consultation, Feb. 6, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Spectrum Community secondary gymnasium, Feb. 13, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Lansdowne in the gym and Feb. 16, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Victoria High Andrews gymnasium.