South Park family school: “Be kind and do your best”

South Park Family School, located in James Bay, has a long history as a school of choice in SD61 and currently has an open district catchment. Presently, any child in Greater Victoria has access to our school and programming.

Why is this choice important? It’s because the active choice to enrol your child in SPFS is directly related to your desire to be here - to live the values and beliefs of the school philosophy. Family involvement, has many levels in the school, but overall it aims to walk beside the kids to build community and support a wide range of learners to engage in their education. We are the same as other families in the district, but wanted an alternative program for our child(ren) based on our individual family needs. We value the chance to do so and want others to have this option too.

Family involvement, combined with the philosophical approach of focusing on self assessment, co-operation, and hands on learning is what makes this school a little different. It’s hard to put into words, but once you live it, you know it’s pretty magical and valuable.


What do we want?

  • We want the district to maintain SPFS as a school of choice so our philosophy can carry on. It will die if we become a catchment school. The data provided by the district shows that SPFS is alleviating enrolment pressures in nearby catchments. 56% come from James Bay, George Jay, and Sir James Douglas catchments. If we add the next closest catchments of Quadra, Oaklands, Margaret Jenkins, Tillicum, and Vic West - 80% of our kids are from these schools. Overall, 88% of our students come from schools that are at, over, or nearing capacity. We ARE helping to alleviate overcrowding at other schools by having an open catchment. Which is great!

  • We want the district to address the serious issues of overcrowding in schools, and we understand the challenge in trying to make all parents in the district happy. Overcrowding is not ok. We stand with all other schools and want to see a solution that works for all schools. We do not, however, want this solution to be at the expense of any schools.

  • The process by which this catchment proposal has been completed has not been collaborative or transparent. There is a lack of understanding in the district that the ability for families to choose our schools is inherent in our adherence to our school philosophy. Without choice we will lose our family involvement in the way it lives now. Ending SPFS as a school of choice will have maximum damage and can not be undone.

  • Our program has value: re: impact on children’s education and long term learning and health outcomes. Every attempt should be made to preserve the school’s philosophy and approach and ensure equal access to all children across the district.

  • We are a creative and collaborative group of parents that would be VERY interested in looking at how we further support the overcrowding issues in other schools at South Park and remain a school of choice. That is, if needed, how can we increase capacity at our school, etc? We understand we are in a tight spot, surrounded by three over enrolled schools and want to do what we can to reduce overcrowding and maintain choice and equity in access to our school. We also understand that our enrolment capacity is limited by the fact that we are a small school, with small shared spaces, which limits our numbers. But are open to doing whatever we can to lessen district overcrowding while maintaining our school’s fundamental philosophy.


Here’s THE BEST WAY you can help

Send an email to the appropriate decision makers that shows your concern for these recommendations and why access to schools of choice are important for all students. Note: please cc: SouthParkFamilySOS@gmail.com so that we can include all emails in our final submission.

Here are some talking points to use in your email. You can use them for inspiration but most importantly, tell your story in your voice:

  • SP is a school of choice with a unique educational program built around parent participation and other educational philosophies upheld by parents and teachers. SP has flourished because families across the district seek it out, opt into it and invest in it.  This cannot be maintained if SP is transformed into a catchment school, because families will not be able to adhere willingly and wholeheartedly to the approach. They will have no choice but to send their child to this program.

  • South Park blends a variety of students from different socio economic backgrounds.

  • High parent involvement provides support to our most vulnerable students, and is shown to have positive impact on mental health.

  • With only 1 option presented, it seems the district is incentivized to approve it, or else face doing nothing. Trustees deserve more options to consider before coming to a decision that has impacts as severe as this one.

  • Talk about how this proposal would impact you personally, since the committee is claiming the plan will have minimal impact.

Other ways you can make an impact

  • Come to the Board meetings while we present and stand beside us (wear RED!):

    • OPPs meeting: Monday, May 13, 2019 @ 7:00pm
      556 Boleskine Road

    • Full Meeting of the Board: Monday, May 27th, 2019 @ 7:30pm

    • Ed Policy Meeting: Monday, June 3rd, 2019 @ 7:00pm
      556 Boleskine Road

    • OPPs Meeting: Monday, June 10th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
      556 Boleskine Road

    • Full Meeting of the Board: Date TBD - aiming for late June, 2019
      556 Boleskine Road

  • Wear RED or an official South Park t-shirt.

  • Join and share our Facebook Page: SOS - help keep South Park as a district-wide Family school.

  • Follow our Twitter page.

  • Send us an email (SouthParkFamilySOS@gmail.com), letter, or Facebook post about what makes South Park Family School a unique and valued program in our School District to you.

  • Spread the word to all those that you know that have ties (current or past) to South Park or who value our educational approach.