Parents fear changes to VSB catchment boundaries will separate siblings
The Apeldoorn family had always planned for both of their young children to eventually attend the same elementary school, but that might not happen now that catchment boundaries in some Vancouver neighbourhoods are being redrawn.
“It’s actually a real tragedy to tear those children apart, make them go to different schools and then have families try to juggle all that with everything else that’s going on,” said parent Arno Apeldoorn.
The Vancouver School Board (VSB) says a surge in medium and high-density housing in the Cambie corridor, Mt. Pleasant and Kitsilano, as well as the downtown core, means more elementary-aged students are registering for school.
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The board is proposing changes to catchment boundaries in an attempt to balance out underutilized schools with overcrowded ones.
But parents like Apeldoorn worry the new lines on the map could split up siblings between different schools, making transportation and childcare for their kids even more of a challenge.
“They think they’re doing us a favour by grandfathering the children that are already in the school to stay there, but the younger siblings are being forced into a new catchment, which means they no longer get their priority, they don’t even get second priority. They’re considered out of catchment,” Apeldoorn said.
What’s more, the VSB and Ministry of Education cannot build their way out of this problem.
“It takes about five years today from start to finish to build a school in Vancouver,” Education Minister Rob Fleming said. “In North Vancouver, it takes four; in Surrey, it could take as little as three. So Vancouver is an outlier.”
The board is inviting parents to voice their concerns at an open house set for next week.
“It’s very difficult to know what parents and what families have siblings that may be affected,” VSB facilities director Jim Meschino said. “This gives us a great indication.”
But Apeldoorn isn’t entirely convinced he can influence change.
“Unfortunately, one of the members that I spoke to told me it was unlikely to change. He was the only one to be honest with me.
“That tells me that there’s a high hurdle to clear for this.”
More information on the proposed catchment changes can be found at the VSB website.
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