Some parents and guardians of students at South Park Family School are adamant that turning the more than century-old facility into a catchment school would destroy its unique learning environment of prioritizing experiences and family involvement. At least 100 parents came out to School District 61’s consultation on Tuesday night. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Catchment will terminate unique learning style of South Park school, parents say

Parents and guardians voice concerns before SD61 consultation on catchment changes

Parents and guardians of students at Victoria’s South Park Family School voiced their concerns before a consultation with the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) Tuesday night.

At least 100 parents came out to share their opposition to proposed changes that would see the school close to Greater Victoria and become catchment only, as part of the district’s ongoing efforts to to accommodate a growing student population in Greater Victoria.

READ ALSO: South Park parents rally after threat of catchment change

READ ALSO: Cloverdale parents look to rally, save school’s ‘culture’

More than a century old and run as a family school for 45 years, South Park promotes an “arts environment” that uses “an alternative education program based on a philosophy of cooperative parent participation” with “play, hands-on experience and a focus on process over product.”

The school also encourages high-level parent involvement, with parents and guardians encouraged to join in the classroom as frequently as they like and even take students on field trips.

“To me as a parent, I like to be involved in my child’s education,” said parent Richard Fleming, who has one child in kindergarten and a three-year-old he is hoping to eventually enroll in the school.

Fleming said he’s taken days off work to spend time with the kids in the classroom.

“Probably every morning in our kindergarten class there will be six to 12 parents in that class, at least spending half an hour [there],” he said.

But under the district’s current proposal, South Park is at risk of losing its “program of choice” status that opens its catchment to the entire school district and provides a lottery enrolment process for parents who have chosen the unique learning style of the school.

And that choice is integral, says South Park Family School Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) chair Jenn Sutton.

She says heavy parent involvement is an active decision and without that choice, the school as they know it will cease to exist.

“You have to keep coming, you have to keep showing up and we rely on the rest of the community to be there when we can’t,” she said. “You have to choose to be here to be able to give that.”

Sutton says the unique learning style of the school “should be celebrated and not terminated.”

Concerned with losing the school’s unique learning experience, more than 145 people rallied in February to create a “Save Our School” campaign.

“Changing our family school from an elementary school of choice to a catchment school is removing the core fabric of what makes this school special to every student, teacher, and parent involved,” Sutton told Black Press in February. “Our school’s philosophy is based on the commitment by a large number of its families to be actively and direct engaged in our school environment.”

Kristil Hammer has children in grade two and four at the school. While the change would be grandfathered in and her children therefore unaffected, she doesn’t want to see the school change.

“This program requires buy-in to continue,” she said, referencing parents from across Greater Victoria who enter the lottery for a spot at the Douglas Street school. “In order to sustain our buy-in, we need a district-wide pool to draw from.”

SD61 is in the third and final phase of its public engagement process on catchment boundaries, which are shifting to accommodate mounting enrolment. The District is meeting directly with the parents, guardians and staff of six schools directly impacted by the proposed changes, including South Park, Cloverdale, Margaret Jenkins, Richmond, Quadra and McKenzie.

READ ALSO: Victoria school district heads into final phase of catchment boundary consultations

READ ALSO: SD61 unveils new proposed catchment areas for Victoria



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Recent arrests skim surface of Victoria’s human trafficking problem

Port city makes desirable place for traffickers flying under the radar

Two-vehicle crash in Langford sends one to hospital Monday morning

Driver sent to hospital with unspecified injuries

Victoria Canadian Forces member honored with exceptional Rotary Club award

Capt. Jacqueline Zweng is the Western Canada Ambassador of Wounded Warriors Canada

Oak Bay athletes rule the slopes at Island ski and snowboard series

Oak Bay boys take top ski, snowboard honours

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Most Read