The Central Okanagan School District is reviewing the catchement areas for Lake Country elementary schools and by next year’s school session there will be new boundaries to distribute students to the three schools in the district.
Davidson Road Elementary is operating over-capacity and with development in the Davidson Road catchement area continuing to bring in more young families, that means some Lake Country kids that currently live in the Davidson Road area will be bussed to one of Lake Country’s two other elementary schools: Oyama Traditional or Peter Greer Elementary.
“The population in the Davidson Road area is way beyond the physical space that the school has to accommodate them all,” said Central Okanagan School District superintendent Hugh Gloster. “Davidson Road has so many primary kids that they can’t accommodate them all. We’re discussing moving the boundaries because all of the growth and development in Lake Country feeds into Davidson Road.”
With one of the fastest growing populations in the country and most of the growth in young families, Lake Country is seeing a crush of students in the lowest levels of its elementary schools and most of the new population is in the Davidson Road area with new developments such as the Lake’s and more development on the books in the area.
Davidson Road remains over-capacity, despite the move of all Grade 7 students in Lake Country to a new annex near George Elliot Secondary this year. Last year, with Grade 7s, Davidson Road had 498 students while this year there are 481 students in Kindergarten through Grade 6.
Currently Oyama is operating under capacity by about 35 students while Peter Greer is also under capacity.
“We have to cap Davidson Road and re-distribute,” said school board trustee Deb Butler, an Oyama resident. “I think it’s going to be tough because there is no easy line to draw. People are going to be affected and that’s always hard for everybody in the community. There is no clear place (to draw new catchement area) that makes more sense than anywhere else. Right now every option is on the table.”
School board officials have met with Parent Advisory Councils from Davidson Road and Oyama and will also hold meetings at Peter Greer and at George Elliot, asking for public input in the process. They will then hold public meetings before making a final decision, likely around January, in time for next year’s school registration.
At Davidson Road, parent Ed Petrukovich said Lake Country is in need of a new school adding parents that live near Davidson Road school should be able to attend that school.
“If anything, it should be how many kilometres you live away from the school,” he said. “It wouldn’t be my preference (to have to take his kids to another school) but I guess it is what it is. What we could really use is another school.”
There are plans for a new middle school in Lake Country but currently that project is years away as it sits fourth on the Central Okanagan School District list of priorities for new schools. Butler said the district must use up all of the space it has in the three elementary schools as a first move with a potential new school on the distant horizon.
“A new school is not in the immediate future for sure,” said Butler. “In general the government doesn’t like to fund anything until you are seriously over population. So redistributing the population is a first step. Having too many kids is better than not having enough. It’s going to be hard and there will be challenges, but this is better than when you have to close schools.”