Forcing Yaletown children to attend schools outside their catchment area runs contrary to the concept of the neighbourhood, which was designed to let residents walk to work, shops and schools.
This was the message of Vancouver-Burrard NDP MLA Spencer Herbert yesterday, after parents camped in the snow outside Elsie Roy Elementary School for four days to claim one of the school’s 44 kindergarten spots.
“(Parents) are frustrated,” Herbert said yesterday. “Parents … want to be able to a part of their community, and going to your neighbourhood school is a big part of that.”
The province is only required to build schools to accommodate current enrolment, and doesn’t take into account a catchment area’s population growth.
“But what we’ve seen as a result of planning for today and not for the future is people sleeping in the cold just so their kid can to go their local school,” Herbert said.
In 2002, the Ministry of Education expanded catchment areas because parents wanted more choice about where they could send their kids.
While Education Minister Shirley Bond was unavailable for comment yesterday, a spokesperson for the ministry said the situation at Elsie Roy is the exception.
Since 2001, the Vancouver school board has seen a drop of more than 2,500 students, he said.
According to a notice posted on the school board’s website, Elsie Roy was at capacity one year after it opened in 2004.
“Students who cannot attend Elsie Roy because of space limitations will be offered enrolment at the nearest school with available space,” the note said.
“Historically, the overflow of kindergarten students has been accommodated at neighbouring elementary schools.”
The note went on to say that the board is working toward opening a new school around the International Village.