Saturday, 12 May 2018

Boundaries of schools in three Vancouver zones could be changed

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With about a hundred kindergarten kids a year not being able to enrol in their own neighbourhood schools, the Vancouver School Board is looking at reconfiguring catchment areas.

At least four schools, Simon Fraser, Hudson, General Gordon and False Creek, are over-capacity, meaning they need to conduct lotteries to determine which kindergarten applicants get seats.

Jim Meschino, the school board’s director of facilities, says in the past few years Hudson has had to turn away 20 to 60 applicants and Gordon from 20 to 40 over the years. Simon Fraser this year could not accommodate 65 applicants.

Out-of-luck students must attend schools much further away.

Simon Fraser, which is in Mount Pleasant, is bursting at the seams because the Olympic Village is within its catchment. The school now has four portables.

“We have had Olympic Village on our capital plan request for several years. It’s a school that we’d desperately like to get constructed. It would alleviate a number of problems,” says Meschino.

In the meantime, the board wants to reduce the size of the catchments areas surrounding crowded schools.

Catchment boundaries are being reviewed for three zones: downtown, Kitsilano and Mount Pleasant.

Two more meetings are being held to allow parents to see more details about the proposed changes. One was already held on Thursday at Sir Charles Tupper secondary.

“The majority of the questions parents had were are about siblings,” notes Meschino. “I think people recognize that boundary-review is required because of the imbalances.”

Kids already attending a particular school will continue to do so if catchments are redrawn, but their siblings entering kindergarten will be redirected to the new catchment school.

The school board will make a decision on new boundaries next month. Changes would take effect for the fall of 2019.

Parents can also offer up their feedback online.

Meschino hopes catchment-reviews happen more often going forward, to reduce the number of students who don’t get into their neighbourhood schools.

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