Let our kids go to Garibaldi Annex!

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My kids go to Garibaldi Annex at Napier and Slocan in East Vancouver.  It’s a K to 4 school, and a feeder school for Lord Nelson Elementary at Charles and Nanaimo.

The school utilizes three downstairs classrooms (the upstairs classrooms were converted to office space for District Learning Services a few years ago).  We have three classes this year – a kindergarten class, a 1-2-3 split, and a grade 4 class.  Last year we had a K-1 split, but apparently those splits are no longer permitted.

The school is great (see for yourself).  The staff and teachers are excellent.  The community is awesome.  My family is fortunate to be part of it.  And there are plenty of out-of-catchment families that could be sharing in this fortune – but for the barriers that the Vancouver School Board (VSB) seems to have created.

We frequently have spots in some or all of our classes, but out-of-catchment applicants (who live close by) are denied admission, with seemingly no reasonable explanation from the VSB.  Perhaps because of these barriers and the related confusion and frustration, we’ve been seeing a decline in school enrollment (which led to the conversion of the upstairs classrooms to DLS offices).

Last year, our Parent Advisory Council (PAC) asked the VSB to 1) explain why families are being prevented from accessing available spots at Garibaldi, and 2) remove unnecessary barriers to access.  The PAC received a response, but not a meaningful explanation, and no apparent action.

Which brings us to the present.  Due to a demographic blip (and our nonsensical catchment boundaries), we only have a small number of in-catchment kindergarteners lined-up for September 2018.  No doubt there are other local (but out-of-catchment) families who are interested in sending their six-year-olds to Garibaldi.  But they’ve been told that they can’t.  So our kindergarten enrollment is unnecessarily low.  As a result, we’ve been told that we won’t have a kindergarten class this year (the in-catchment kids will be sent to Lord Nelson, which may already be overcrowded).  And we’ve been advised that there is no longer a job at Garibaldi for our fabulous kindergarten teacher.

This situation is super frustrating and unfortunate.  But, there’s an easy short-term solution: The VSB needs to get out of the way, and let kids go to Garibaldi!