Parents are rejoicing after school board trustees voted unanimously to keep Victor School as it is, rather than incorporating it into a revised catchment boundary as a regular school.
Victor School is a specialized education facility for children needing medical assistance or who have high-incidence behaviour issues. The school offers them additional support for learning.
However, when the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) released their proposal for new school catchment boundaries, Victor School, along with South Park School and Cloverdale Traditional School, were slated to be absorbed as a new enrolment option for the regular elementary mainstream.
After parental protest to the proposition, the school board voted on Monday on a motion put forward by school board trustee Ryan Painter to exempt Victor School from the plan.
“It was awesome,” said Marcus Pollard, whose son attends Victor School. “It was honestly just so touch and go … we didn’t think it was going to happen.”
Pollard likened the decision to getting a new iPhone – paying a good amount to get something that basically does the same thing as before.
“We worked really hard and really concentrated to get back where we already were, but we’re still happy,” he said. “I think the future is going to be great.”
Pollard said the board has since sat down with parents to discuss what could further help the school, with the largest priority being the establishment of a special needs education committee.
“Part of the problem that happened with the catchment proposal is they literally did not think of our kids or our lives, they just saw the building,” Pollard said. “They didn’t have an inkling of how unique, and frankly how challenging our lives are.”
Pollard said SD61 seemed receptive to the idea.
“We parents are energized and mobilized and I feel like the school board trustees and administrators are open to listening.”
SD61 secretary treasurer Mark Walsh was also happy with the discussions.
“Ultimately, there’s great conversations coming out about students with diverse learning needs,” Walsh said. “It’s been challenging, we know how emotional it can be when looking at change.”
Now, however, SD61 has the challenge of finding alternative options for the area, which is overpopulated for the current school options.
“The capacity issues in that particular area are significant,” Walsh said. “The board is expecting us to now bring them alternative options.”
Walsh noted some options to consider could be more portables, expansions to permanent schools, or readdressing the use of French language school Sundance Elementary. Leasing land and redrawing boundaries are also options.
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