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Comox Valley Schools to kick off public consultations to address space issues in district

COMOX VALLEY, B.C. – The Comox Valley School District wants to hear from parents and guardians as enrolment pressures loom ahead of the next school year.

Due to a jump in the student population in the region, along with a 2017 Supreme Court Ruling that reduced classroom size, some district schools are operating near or above capacity, with no additional room or viable options to expand, according to a district release.

The district’s board of education has started the consultation process for the fall of 2019 on catchment areas.

“Before we can begin consultation, it is important to first ask the community what more information should be considered that may not have been addressed already,” the release stated.

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“Having an early conversation will help us create an engaging experience for the consultation process.”

District manager of communications and community engagement Mary Lee said a lot of young families are moving to the valley and with that,  student populations are rising, “which is a good news story.”

“However, the implication is that space is tight,” Lee said.

She added, “recognizing that the projected population growth trend for the next few years, we want to start a conversation now with our community and talk about what other considerations should we be thinking about in order to develop a fall consultation process around realignment of boundaries and catchment, so we have taken everything into consideration and consulted with our community.”

Lee said this consultation will help shape the decision making process that will help the board make decisions moving forward.

The board is addressing the capacity issue now, to make decisions early enough to implement for the 2020/21 school year when enrollment will surpass space currently available in a few district schools.

Four meetings are scheduled in May:

  • Lake Trail Middle School – Monday, May 6th, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
  • Cumberland Community School (multi-purpose room) – Tuesday, May 7th, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
  • Miracle Beach School – Thursday, May 9th, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
  • Huband Park Elementary School – Monday, May 13th, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

The agenda for each meeting will include a situation report on the state of enrollment and pressures in the district, enrollment trends and forecasts, a review of the catchment areas and grade configurations in valley schools, and the procedures for cross-boundary transfer requests.

The meeting will then move into a focus group format in which we ask the community for input and ask questions so that all concerns are shared and discussed.

“Together, the board, staff and the community can shape the consultation process in a manner that is meaningful to all,” the release stated. “We encourage the public, particularly residents of one of the neighbourhood schools listed above, to attend a meeting and share in the conversation. These early awareness sessions will help build a productive consultation process for the fall of 2019 around catchment areas.”

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