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

Just Posted

Federal government actions hurt Sooke hatchery fundraising efforts

Funding denial comes on the heels of fishing closures

SD62 student places third in province-wide French competition

12-year-old Sasha Zandieh won third with a speech on poet Pablo Neruda

Island athlete goes from hoop dreams to icy track

Cyrus Gray hopes to punch his ticket to Olympics in bobsleigh

Jesse Roper learns to create fire in the wild, in Sacred Knowledge web series

Ragnarock Studios production shares primitive skills with Islanders

Oak Bay researcher’s Canadian English dictionary goes to print

How an unknown American hobbyist sparked a Canadian dictionary

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve investigating after sea lion found shot in the head

Animal is believed to have been killed somewhere between Ucluelet and Tofino

Most Read