Raymer Elementary school in Kelowna. Photo credit: Contributed

Bracing for Kelowna enrolment spike

Catchment zones recommended for four south central schools

A recommendation before the Central Okanagan school board calls for the adoption of catchment area boundaries for four south central Kelowna schools.

The resolution from the planning and facilities committee is felt needed to better manage the future growth of the area and impact that will have on the student population.

The elementary schools affected would be A.S. Matheson, Ecole Casorso, Raymer and South Kelowna.

Some years ago, the school board developed an open catchment policy that gave parents options for where to enrol their children, but Central Okanagan Board of Education chair Moyra Baxter said that policy has been slowly clawed back as the population has grown placing registration pressure on some schools.

Baxter said the ministry of education has also called for defined catchment areas for B.C. schools with enrolment waiting lists instituted when necessary.

Related: More students means more money

Baxter said enrolment for the south central schools is not a serious issue at this point, as the policy is more a proactive measure for future population growth.

She cited the example of the Village Green development on the south side of Harvey Avenue, where any influx of new students from that residential project would have Matheson Elementary as their closest neighbourhood school.

Baxter said all students currently enrolled at the Kelowna schools would not be impacted by the catchment border policy when enforced, but in the future newly registering students from outside the boundaries could be bumped in favour of catchment area located students if a school is filled to capacity.

Baxter said parents moving to a neighbourhood have an expectation their kids can be enrolled in the nearest school; there are safety concerns for elementary students posed by crossing major roadways and other known hazards; some parents have transportation issues; and defined catchment areas help minimize stress for rapidly growing/declining areas.

Baxter said she has attended Parent Advisory Council meetings for the schools involved, and while attendance has been small, those who have showed up are supportive of the move.

The trustees will address the school catchment area resolution at the Nov. 22 school board meeting.

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