Parents concerned about school waitlists

Parents voiced issues at a Central Okanagan School Board meeting about Chute Lake Elementary

The wait list issues at Chute Lake Elementary had one parent in tears as they spoke to the Central Okanagan School District at a board meeting on Wednesday night.

“We moved to Kelowna from Toronto four years ago in order to find the work/life balance… and kettle valley is absolutely amazing,” said parent Camille Olsen.

“We literally live five doors down from Chute Lake and we hear the bell from my kitchen window. We’ve always referred to Chute Lake as (my son’s) school one day so I had no idea I was going to be in this position.”

Parents register for a placement online.

Olsen said she hovered over the registration button and clicked it seven seconds after the 7 a.m. registration start time but her son was placed as the ninth student on the wait list.

“It just goes to show how on the ball we are,” she said in reference to her acting as quickly as possible to register.

Currently, the school is operating at capacity with approximately 467 students, and 27 waitlisted kindergarten students and 30 students who are waiting to get back into the school at older grades, said district secretary-treasurer Larry Paul.

“Every single new family that has applied has been told that Chute Lake is full,” said parent Laura Myles. “Sending our kids to other schools is a band-aid solution… the situation is only going to get worse as the neighbourhood continues to expand.”

Around seven concerned parents sat in the front row during the meeting.

“When the school opened it was totally full right from the beginning, parents were actually camping the weekend before because they used to have to go to the school to register,” said board chairperson Moyra Baxter.

The issue lies with the ministry approving the school for the population of the day, said Paul.

The changing Grade configuration in the district will change Chute Lake to a kindergarten for Grade 5 elementary which will open up classrooms, but the district is unable to place more portables on the property due to the geothermal field, said Paul.

The student population is also growing.

“The challenge is; do we displace kids to schools that have space, or do we keep adding to the school and make it bigger and bigger and then never getting another school?” said Paul, adding with larger schools it’s harder to manage large groups of students as well as issues with traffic and flow.

Chute Lake opened in 2009 and is located in the Upper Mission.

A public meeting will be held on Monday, May 1 at 4 p.m. to address more issues and concerns at the elementary school.

School board briefs:

The district is receiving $7 million as part of the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling for the 2002 language agreement which deals with class sizes and will be hiring approximately 125 new teachers from September 2016 to September 2017.

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