Parents of students at Campus View elementary school are concerned their younger children will be unable to get into the school if the school board changes its policy regarding priorities for student siblings. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Saanich parents concerned enrolment changes will split up siblings

Victoria School District proposal would end priority for siblings of current students

A group of parents whose children attend Campus View elementary are concerned with the proposals being considered by the Victoria School Board (SD61) to change the enrolment priorities for which children are accepted into schools.

Traditionally, the younger siblings of students get priority, including in-catchment students and the French immersion lottery program.

Andrea Prizeman, a mother of three with one at Campus View and two yet to enter school, says the recent survey overlooked younger siblings who are in-catchment and is concerned she could end up with three children in three different schools.

“The proposed changes to enrolment priorities means that we will have to go through the lottery system for each child in the hopes of all of our children following in the same path as their brother,” Prizeman said in a letter. “If that happens I could have three children at three different [elementary schools].”

Prizeman’s situation is shared by Meredith Ruelle, mom of an in-catchment Grade 1 Campus View student and another three-year-old, and Sheryl Powell, who has three at Campus View with a fourth coming in two years.

“With my oldest at middle school I could have four kids at three schools, I can’t even fathom doing the drop-offs and pick-ups for that,” Powell said.

The recommendations, which include a suggestion to prioritize catchment area students ahead of siblings (including in-catchment students) came from a public consultation campaign that included an online survey that ran between March 16 and April 10.

The survey was created by the school district’s Student Registration and Transfer Committee, created in October, to establish student registration and transfer priorities for students. The committee presented a report based on the public consultation to the school district’s Operations and Planning committee last week.

It had 3,450 parent respondents as well as 418 students respondents. Forty per cent of the parent respondents came from Saanich, 30 per cent from Victoria and 14 per cent from Oak Bay, while 95 per cent of the student responses were from those of high school age.

In particular, it’s this section that is causing a stir with parents.

“The majority of parent respondents felt that a child attending a neighbourhood catchment school was more important than siblings attending the same school at the same time,” said the report.

The recommendation encourages revising “current student enrolment priorities to reflect greater priority for students living within catchment.”

The report also says it would prioritize catchment students over siblings of students currently enrolled. New student enrolment priorities for new registrations and transfers would be as follows: 1. re-enrolling students 2. a catchment area child 3. siblings 4. a non-catchment area child, and 5. a non-school district child.

School district spokesperson Katie Hamilton said the Operations and Planning committee is reviewing the recommendations and feedback before it comes to the Board of Education next week.

“The recommendations could change,” she said.

The changes would take place ahead of the 2018-19 school year.

“It just seems like the school district is moving a little fast,” Prizeman said. “We reside within the Campus View catchment area.”

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