Garden Valley School Division board of trustees has passed a notice of motion for an amendment to the division's School of Choice policy
Authorized by principals at individual schools, School of Choice is accessible to parents and students across the province.
Superintendent Dan Ward says it's not a significant change in terms of altering the policy.
"It requires schools to get in touch with the division every year so we can go over how many school-of-choice students have been accepted over the last number of years and if that is aligning with the provincial guidelines. Now, we still want to provide flexibility because flexibility is always good. The threshold would be 10%. At any time if the school reaches 10% of its total enrollment, we're asking them to check in so that we can review staffing levels and ensure that it's equitable and fair and that it's administered consistently across the 14 schools."
The stipulation around school-of-choice is space and space has everything to do with staffing.
"We are going to provide schools with an annual report to not only share with schools how many school of choice students have been enrolled over the last number of years and the total number of school of Choice students, but also have a conversation around staffing in terms of ensuring that our schools are adequately staffed. In essence, when a school of choice application is reviewed, space is always the most important factor."
While Ward points out that it's great for a community the size of Winkler to have two very strong schools, in light of ever-changing enrollment trends and a desire to maintain consistent catchment lines, the board wants to ensure enrollment at both schools is robust enough to offer the type of programming parents and students should expect. Providing parents with as much choice as possible is reliant on adequate space and staff, with an eye to projected enrollment for the following year.
What happens next?
"Consulting with schools and the public before the amendment receives final motion-in-reading at the April board reading with the amended taking effect in the new school year.