• Ryan Painter

Remove Victor School from catchment review: trustee

The original articles appeared on timescolonist.com on February 16, 2019. You can find the original article here.

Greater Victoria school board trustee Ryan Painter is calling for Victor School to be removed from the district’s review of school-catchment areas.

Greater Victoria school board trustee Ryan Painter is calling for Victor School to be removed from the district’s review of school-catchment areas.

The review includes a proposal to turn Victor into an elementary school and to relocate most of the students with complex special needs who go there — something that has raised significant concern among parents.

“These are the most vulnerable students in our district,” Painter said.

He said it makes sense to look at Victor’s 16 students in a unique way. “Essentially, what I’m hoping I can do is set Victor aside and maybe run a parallel process,” he said. “What I would like to see would kind of be like almost a parallel, separate group where Victor can be discussed, and a fulsome engagement and consultation can be had.”

He said Greater Victoria school district staff have done “incredible work” in designing the review process.

“The consultation piece is something that was unanimously supported at the board table — I certainly supported it,” Painter said. “Moving forward, the best way to do that is to continue on as we are with the current process, but try to do it with Victor in a separate capacity.

“It’s never too late to go back and consult,” he said. “It’s never a bad idea to go back and have more conversations.”

Fellow trustee and school board vice-chairwoman Ann Whiteaker said she isn’t sure if Painter’s motion will pass.

“It would be pretty unfair to the other parents that have other concerns to be shaving pieces off at this point,” Whiteaker said. “Obviously, it will be up to the board to make the final decision.”

She said she is pleased with the amount of participation in the review so far. “There’s a lot of input coming in, which I think is fantastic,” Whiteaker said. “My hope, of course, will be through this that we are able to really look at and hear those parent perspectives and come up with something that’s going to work the most for everybody.”

Painter said he is putting forward a motion out of respect for Victor parents. The motion was to be considered at the district’s operations policy and planning committee meeting this past Monday, but the session was cancelled due to snow and has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Parents from South Park Family School and Cloverdale Traditional School, where the district programs in place could give way to catchment schools, are also concerned about the review.

A catchment boundary determines which students in a geographical area are eligible to attend a specific school. Shrinking or expanding a catchment area can deal with schools that are either full or have room to grow.

A decision is set to be made the spring, with changes to be brought in for September 2020.

The review comes at a time of rising enrolment and a need for space in the district, which has about 20,000 students and 44 schools.

The review process continues today with an open house from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Victoria High School’s Andrews Gymnasium. Another open house, cancelled due to snow this week, has been rescheduled for Feb. 26 for 6:30 p.m. at Oak Bay High School.

It will feature a question-and-answer period from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

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