Parents win battle to preserve Victor School as specialized facility
The Greater Victoria School District has passed a motion to remove Victor School from consideration as a catchment school.
During a meeting Monday evening, board members unanimously voted to remove the school, which is attended by students with special needs, from the proposal.
The district previously suggested it be transitioned to an elementary school to accommodate overcrowding at surrounding schools.
The proposal sparked outrage from parents who said that moving students out of Victor School would be unfair. After a grueling month, the Greater Victoria School District’s decision comes as a relief.
“[The school board] listened to us, and they learned,” said Catherine Nash, whose son attends Victor School. “They learned about Victor School and our kids and we’re very thankful to them”
Ryan Painter, the school trustee who first pushed to have Victor School removed from catchment consideration, said he believes the decision came partly from community pressure.
“It shows the power of activism and of grabbing hold of an issue that has resonance with the community,” said Painter. “I think this issue, which affects a very special school with the most vulnerable population caught attention.”
With the elimination of Victor School, the district will be looking for new solutions to the overcrowding problem. Quadra, Oaklands, and George Jay Elementary, whose catchments would have changed with the incorporation of Victor School, are facing some of the most prominent crowding issues.
Both Quadra and George Jay Elementary are nearing their limits while Oaklands Elementary is 30 students over capacity.
“We look at our gyms and our libraries and when we have so many kids in the school, access to these resources become limited,” said SD61 Vice-Chair Ann Whiteaker.
With enrollment expected to rise, the district is looking for creative ways to make space.
“We’ll be looking at how we can create new buildings,” Whiteaker said. “We might be looking at portables, new additions, or in a worst-case scenario we might be looking at selling land.”
The district is asking staff to compile suggestions which it plans to review in the coming weeks.