As part of the new boundaries proposal, SD61 has French immersion students from Margaret Jenkins Elementary School transitioning into Lansdowne Middle School as opposed to the current path to Central Middle School, doubling the commute for many families. (Don Denton/News staff)

Petition protests doubling commute for Margaret Jenkins French immersion families

Proposed change has students going to Lansdowne instead of Central

Parents in the Victoria School District have until Friday to give feedback on proposed changes to school catchment boundaries and a petition against one of the changes has been gaining support since it was posted early Tuesday.

As part of the new boundaries proposal, SD61 has French immersion students from Margaret Jenkins Elementary School transitioning into Lansdowne Middle School as opposed to the current path to Central Middle School, doubling the commute for many families.

RELATED: SD61 unveils new proposed catchment areas for Victoria

The petition notes that Lansdowne is not a neighbourhood school for most Margaret Jenkins families and the commute is not safe, having to travel through different municipalities “on busy roads, past major intersections and past the busy Royal Jubilee Hospital.”

The SD61 website lists the guiding considerations it used to create the new boundaries which includes “limiting walk distances to and from school” and “ensuring safe active travel routes within catchment areas.”

The current route from Margaret Jenkins to Central is 2 km, whereas the proposed route from Margaret Jenkins to Lansdowne is 3.7 km (direct on busy roads – a safer route would add distance).

RELATED: Victoria parents want SD61 to ‘start over’ with catchment planning

The petition calls for a safe route to a neighbourhood school in order to “promote independence, provide exercise, build self-esteem and boost confidence.”

Open houses for the Greater Victoria School District (SD61)’s proposed catchment boundary changes, where parents could share comments and concerns, wrapped up last week.

Parents still have the option to submit feedback online until 3 p.m. on March 8 at boundaryreviewteam@sd61.bc.ca.

RELATED: SD61 wraps up public consultation on catchment changes with final open house

School district staff will compile the feedback into a report to bring back to the school board in early April.

The board will then give staff recommendations – which could require more consultations – with a goal of implementing the new boundaries for September 2020.

“We are hoping to come to a decision for May, because if people are going to have a different catchment in 2020, many people may have to make decisions about September 2019,” said District Secretary-Treasurer Mark Walsh in a recent interview with Black Press.

For more information, visit sd61.bc.ca.

RELATED: Victor School to remain as specialized education facility


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

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