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Trustees dismiss Naramata bid to boost school area

Naramata Elementary School is currently at just 40 per cent of student capacity. - Google Maps
Naramata Elementary School is currently at just 40 per cent of student capacity.
— image credit: Google Maps

A group of parents fighting to boost enrolment at Naramata Elementary School has been denied its request for a larger territory from which to draw students.

The board of the Okanagan Skaha School District at its meeting Monday received a letter from the school’s parent advisory committee, which asked for “serious consideration” of an expanded catchment area.

As of Feb. 28, the school was operating at just 40 per cent of capacity with 64 students.

However, school board chairman Bruce Johnson said parents are already free to send their kids to whichever schools they like, so an increased catchment area for Naramata wouldn’t necessarily remedy the situation.

“It’s not like the old days where you could say: ‘Thou shalt go this school because you live on this street,’” said Johnson.

“Nowadays, there’s a lot more choice and flexibility for parents, for families to apply for a transfer to whichever school they want, regardless of where they live.

“We’re in full support of a vibrant Naramata school. However, it’s not something you can mandate to people.”

Naramata PAC president Deb Linton told the board she understood its logic, but said expanding the catchment area would require parents who don’t want to send their kids to the school to attend at least once to sign transfer papers.

“They would at least have to go visit the school and see what a fantastic place it is,” Linton explained.

Superintendent Wendy Hyer said that would cause unnecessary turmoil for parents of kids who get caught up in the shuffle.

“I don’t think it’s worth upsetting our parents at the other schools,” said Hyer.

“I do think that it’s a worthwhile question when there’s another subdivision or development that goes in. That’s a much more appropriate time to look at those boundaries,” she added, alluding to a proposed 1,000-unit residential development in the Spiller Road area at the northeastern edge of Penticton.

The closest school to Spiller Road is Uplands Elementary, which was at 87 per cent of capacity as of Feb. 28.

Trustees also heard at Monday’s meeting there is no minimum student-population threshold that would trigger discussion of the closure of Naramata Elementary School, and Johnson said he hasn’t heard of any plans to explore the topic.

“Not at this time, and none that I’ve heard of,” he said.

 

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