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District polls Laronde parents on other choices

Laronde Elementary - File photo
Laronde Elementary
— image credit: File photo

Parents of students at Laronde Elementary are being given the opportunity to request their children be transferred to neighbouring schools.

A selection form distributed to parents last week asks what their first and second selections of neighbouring schools are for children entering kindergarten and Grade 1 this fall.

Peace Arch News reported two weeks ago that the two students enrolled in Laronde’s English-speaking kindergarten program this year are currently grouped in a 17-student split class with Grade 1s and 2s.

In a letter to parents last month, Surrey School District assistant Supt. Rick Ryan said the kindergarten-aged population is expected to be low again this fall, and “we are anticipating that a K/1 combined class will not be viable for next year.”

The purpose of last week’s selection form was for parents to consider their options, according to district spokesperson Doug Strachan.

“We’re trying to give parents as much notice as possible rather than having everyone scramble if we don’t have enough for a kindergarten class,” Strachan told PAN last week.

The form also gives parents with children entering Grades 2 to 7 the option to stay at Laronde “providing there is sufficient enrolment and an educationally sound grade grouping” or request a transfer. Those who select the latter are asked to give their first and second choices of neighbouring schools.

Strachan said while the main focus is currently on kindergarten and Grade 1, all grades at the 1880 Laronde Dr. school have “relatively small enrolment.”

“What we’re trying to do is be upfront with parents about how things are looking so they can make choices and not face sudden disruptions as we head into September,” he said.

“The younger grades, they’re very small numbers right now; seven or eight in Grade 2 and 3. If parents want to go to a neighbouring school and just be settled about it and not have to worry about what the class size or the grade grouping might be in September, then they have that option.

“If they choose to select a neighbouring school to go to and get connected and settled, they can certainly do that and we will provide priority for them to do that.”

There are four other elementary schools in the Elgin area – Ocean Cliff, Crescent Park, Ray Shepherd and Chantrell Creek.

Strachan said Ocean Cliff and Ray Shepherd have room for additional students, but if parents choose the other schools – which are tighter for space – “we will do all we can to make that happen.”

Strachan said some families have already decided to make the switch.

“Understandably there’s parents and students who have been at that school and want to remain at the school, but we’re just trying to be pragmatic and we’re also trying to ensure parents know the facts as we know them and can make choices and consider choices in advance of the school year so they can adjust.”

Strachan said the district is also “taking steps to keep the classmates together if they want to go to Ray Shepherd or Ocean Cliff.”

Parents have until March 14 to return the form.

“Part of the reason is obviously if there’s groups of friends or parents with kids who all want to go to the same school, they can sort that out and we can make accommodations for that,” Strachan noted.

 

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