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)

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

(Black Press Media file photo)
Court-registered sex offender arrested for breach of parole in Langford

Cameron Ratelle returned to correctional facility after female youth approached at bus stop

Marc Porpaczy said he’s glad he delayed his daily walk with his dog, Juno, after a car crashed just outside his driveway just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash highlights need for sidewalks, say Colwood residents

‘The residents have gone from frustrated to angry’

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

Most Read