Parents worried school boundary changes could split up siblings
Parents say proposed changes to Vancouver school catchments could mean some families wind up with young siblings in separate schools several kilometres apart.
Jennifer Taylor is worried her two children won’t both be able to go to the elementary school six blocks from her Kitsilano home.
"Camden is 5 ½ and she's in kindergarten here at Henry Hudson. And John is 3 ½,” Taylor said.
Proposed new boundaries put them outside the Henry Hudson Elementary catchment but Camden will be allowed to continue there because she has already started.
When John enters kindergarten in September 2019, he will not get priority to go to the same school as his sister. He will likely wind up at General Gordon Elementary, a 30 minute walk away.
"I'm a single mom. I work. The idea of having to drop both of my kids off at schools that are 20 blocks apart at the same time is completely impossible,” said Taylor about the prospect.
Jim Meschino, Vancouver School Board’s director of planning and facilities, says other families have voiced similar concerns.
“We welcome parents to bring those examples forward because we’d like to share those examples with our board when they come to determine if we are going to proceed with this proposal,” he said.
According to former VSB board chair Patti Bacchus, the problem begins in Olympic Village, which doesn’t have a school despite land being set aside for one.
“This problem has really affected the families in the Olympic Village area and now it’s really having a ripple effect across several other communities,” said Bacchus.
Catchments from Olympic Village all the way west to Point Grey are now facing changes.
Provincial Education Minister Rob Fleming wouldn’t comment on the future of the Olympic Village site and whether a new school is actually in the works there.
Instead, he hinted that a different community could soon benefit from an announcement.
"To parents who live in the West End, I would say things are moving along now and we will have some exciting announcements to make in the days and months ahead,” Fleming said.
In the meantime, Taylor is left wondering what difficult choices her family will have to make if the catchment changes are approved as currently laid out.
"My biggest fear is that in order to have both of my children in the same school we will have to move to a school that's outside of our community,” she said.
The Vancouver School Board says it continues to consult with parents and a vote could happen on the proposal in late June.