Black Mountain area residential development growth is one of the reasons for school district concerns about the Black Mountain Elementary School’s growing enrolment and the need for catchment area boundaries to be established. Photo: Contributed

Two Kelowna schools eyed for enrolment review

Catchment zones considered for Black Mountain and Ellison elementary schools

A proposal to establish student enrolment catchment zones for Black Mountain Elementary and Ellison Elementary schools will come before the newly elected school board within the next two months.

Currently, the Rutland area has an open elementary catchment boundary, but concerns have arisen with that policy regarding transportation eligibility and student enrolment management.

In particular, Black Mountain Elementary is over-capacity now and the 10-year projection by the school district foresees increased enrolment as the Kirschner Mountain and Black Mountan residential developments continue to build out.

RELATED: School board revisits Kelowna school catchment zones

The issue is expected to come before the planning and facilities committee in November or December, with a recommendation then passed on to the board of education.

In a submission by David Widdis, planning manager for the Central Okanagan Public Schools, the initial direction from the board was to hold off on changing Rutland school catchment policies until the Rutland Middle School was resolved.

But it was decided by the trustees the Black Mountain/Ellison boundary review should proceed because the schools represent distinct neighbourhoods and the busing eligibility is based on having catchment zones.

Widdis tried to address some of the issues parents are asking if catchment boundaries are adopted for the two schools.

RELATED: School district bracing for an enrolment spike

He said students currently enrolled in Black Mountain or Ellison this school term won’t be impacted. If adopted for September 2019, any new students applying for enrolment at either school will be priority based on boundary borders.

“The Board of Education policy places a high priority on keeping siblings together, and the intent is to allow siblings to stay together if that is what families decide to do,” he stated.

He indicated the policy for setting/changing catchment areas with Central Okanagan schools is based on several principles: Reflect traditional neighbourhoods, subdivisions and regions; minimize safety concerns for elementary students; reflect long-term development growth or decline; maximize efficiency of school bus transportation system; and maintain a cohort of students at each grade level offered at a school.

In past debate on this issue, board chair Moyra Baxter was among the trustees who advocated for the catchment policy review while trustee Rolli Cacchioni had indicated most parents he talked to favoured the existing open policy being continued.

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