Royal Oak Middle School

SD 63 to slam door on outside students

About 600 Greater Victoria students commute to Saanich schools

With situations such as Claremont secondary hosting 435 out-of-catchment (OCC) students, the Saanich School District says the days of students enrolling outside their catchment zones are waning.

With a steady increase in its student population, the Saanich School District is tightening its enrolment process starting sooner rather than later. It’s similar to what’s happening at the Greater Victoria School District, but on a less “intrusive” scale, said Saanich School District superintendent David Eberwein.

“We’re showing a slow and steady increase in our population over the 10 to 15 years, though not any sudden spikes,” Eberwein said.

Read More: Greater Victoria school board to consider reopening schools with boundary review

To deal with a projected increase of 1,800 students over the next decade, the Victoria School District recently redesigned its enrolment priority policy and implemented a strict proof of residency requirement. It’s now reviewing its school catchment boundaries through a public consultation and a staff review as well as the reinstatement of at least two schools that were de-commissioned.

However, it’s a much simpler answer for the Saanich School District, said Eberwein.

The Saanich schools at capacity are carrying a shockingly high number of out-of-catchment students, particularly along the southern region, where there are about 600 students commuting from their residence within the Greater Victoria School District (according to the SD63 Long Term Facilities Plan, based on 2017-18 numbers).

Read More: Saanich school district finds teachers for added classes

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“We will begin to limit out-of-catchment [enrolment],” Eberwein said. “We feel comfortable we can manage down some of our populations over the next number of years.”

Those with the highest out-of-catchment numbers in the Saanich School District are Claremont, Lochside elementary, Prospect Lake elementary, Cordova Bay elementary and Royal Oak middle school. Claremont has 435 out-of-catchment students, 264 from Greater Victoria School District. Lochside had 169 OCC students last year and was over its 394-student capacity with 422 students, of which 68 commute from Victoria.

Sixty-five of Prospect Lake’s 230 students were out-of-catchment, including 28 from SD61. Cordova Bay was at 275, 26 over its capacity of 249, with 61 out of catchment and 19 from SD61. Royal Oak was also over its 600-student capacity with a whopping 209 out-of-catchment students, of which 175 are reportedly from Greater Victoria (SD61).

While those are last year’s numbers, the are very similar for 2018-19, although that will change.

In North Saanich, the newly built Kelset elementary is also at capacity with 394 students but with 74 OCC students, it can also be managed, Eberwein said.

“We’re trying to take a less intrusive route than Victoria,” Eberwein said. “Adjusting catchment boundaries can be quite disruptive. Families sometimes move into areas with an idea of attending that school.”

While the number of future Greater Victoria students attending Saanich District schools is expected to decrease due to the changes, the future number of Saanich District students attending Victoria District schools will also decrease, as Victoria clamps down on its out-of-catchment, and out-of-district enrolment.

reporter@saanichnews.com


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