Westmount New Catchment

The Board of Education of School District No. 73 (Kamloops-Thompson) has voted to change the catchment areas of three schools to relieve significant enrollment pressure at Westmount Elementary School as of September 2022.

At 181% capacity, and with 41% of the students in six portables, the Board of Education has voted to reorganize the catchment area for Westmount Elementary, David Thompson Elementary, and Westsyde Elementary to relieve pressure at Westmount to balance student enrolment and capacity utilization.

Long-Range Facilities Plan - 2022

Public Board Memo - Westmount Boundary Review

Westmount Elementary Catchment Change Parent Letter


Westmount New Catchment

Map - New Catchment

* "North of Stagecoach" would go to Westsyde Elementary

* "North of Raven to Stagecoach and Cantle" would go to David Thompson Elementary

Frequently Asked Questions
What will the catchment area change look like?
The catchment area change will see the David Thompson Elementary School catchment include residences “north of Raven Drive to Stagecoach Drive and Cantle Drive” and the Westsyde Elementary School catchment include residences “north of Stagecoach Drive.” See the map here.
Why did the Board of Education vote to approve a change to the catchment area for Westmount Elementary?
As outlined in the February 2022 SD73 Long-Range Facilities Plan, Westmount Elementary is currently facing significant enrolment pressure due to ongoing new development in the Batchelor Heights area over the past ten years. In order to balance student enrolment and capacity utilization, the Board has voted in favour of a catchment change for Westmount Elementary, David Thompson Elementary, and Westsyde Elementary schools.
How will the District ensure children have support for making friendships and to ease their anxieties about leaving their peer groups?
We will work to keep peers together. We will also work with the staff who would work with children and work with your child to connect them to friends and a member of staff. It is a priority to ensure children are supported with their social connections as part of the class development process.
What could I do as a parent to support my child?
Listen-Protect-Connect: Going to a new school creates anxiety, so talking with your child about what they are feeling and wondering about when they are going to a new school is a good way to inspire conversation and to listen. Listening is key. Protect is about being positive and not talking about all of the worries. Make sure to connect with the school or with district staff to help you connect with the school to get to know some of the people who are designated to assist (school counsellor, social emotional teacher). Assistant Superintendent Mochikas will reach out to parents at the schools receiving students and bring back more suggestions because many have lived this within the last few years.
Will existing students be required to change schools or only new enrolments?
The catchment change will impact students currently in Kindergarten to grade 5. Students currently in grade 6 will be permitted to stay at Westmount Elementary for their grade 7 year and the siblings of this cohort will also have the choice to stay at Westmount Elementary.
Will parents have an opportunity to provide input?
The District is implementing a specific engagement strategy to involve parents/caregivers and students impacted by the catchment change. The focus will be on how District staff can support a successful transition to a different school for affected students and families. These conversations will be structured as focus group meetings in person, either ZOOM or face-to-face. There will be meetings scheduled to listen to and gather information from small groups of parents to find out how the Board of Education can facilitate a successful transition for students currently at Westmount Elementary who will be impacted by the catchment change.

Were other options considered before this decision was made?

An alternative catchment boundary plan to address Westmount’s enrolment pressure was considered and entailed moving all students in Batchelor Heights out of the Westmount Elementary catchment to David Thompson Elementary. This alternative catchment was investigated as a means to keep the Batchelor Heights neighbourhood together by moving all students from this area to one school. However, for this to be feasible, some students would have been displaced from David Thompson Elementary and moved to Westsyde Elementary, resulting in fragmenting the David Thompson Elementary school community. In an effort to maintain as much stability in school communities as possible and knowing that both options already require moving Batchelor Heights students away from Westmount Elementary and their peers, the decision was to maintain the current catchment boundary between David Thompson Elementary and Westsyde Elementary.
What is the District doing to support child mental health as it is impacted by the catchment change?
Students impacted by this catchment change may find the transition to a new school challenging. To support this transition, District staff will follow a plan to help students and families manage the concern of the ‘unknown’ that comes when students experience change. Elements of this plan will include identifying impacted students and working with these students to supply their new school with favourite items like games, physical education equipment, and library books. District staff will work with the principals of David Thompson Elementary and Westsyde Elementary to welcome students to their schools through videos to students and families and engagement in other transition activities. Furthermore, parents and caregivers will be given resources, such as EASE (Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Educators) to help support their children through the transition to a different elementary school.
How will students with Inclusive Education Plans be supported?
District staff will work together to ease this transition through additional support time from Inclusive Education Services.
How will busing be affected?
The District’s Transportation Department has developed a plan to provide bus transportation for students who will be moving from Westmount Elementary to David Thompson Elementary or Westsyde Elementary. In the plan, there will be a bus available for students traveling to both David Thompson Elementary and Westsyde Elementary, resulting in two buses transporting students daily.
Why was there no previous discussion with the parent group and school regarding a catchment change, prior to the decision made at the board meeting?

Based on section 75 (1) and (2) of the School Act, the Board does not need to consult with a community prior to setting catchment area boundaries.

Given the time sensitive nature of enrolment pressures at Westmount, the Board required recommendations that could be implemented this Spring. Consultation, if there was to be such a community engagement process, would require more time. The urgency of this consultation was made apparent by the parents at Westmount through the Advocates of SD73 in their letter to the Board in October.

The board does not make catchment changes based on individual students and families because this approach would inevitably put families against one another. 

Are there any thoughts on doing it differently to accommodate cohorts, classes, and age groups? Eg: (Westmount K-3) Westsyde (3-5) (DT 5-7)
When boundaries are set for any catchment area, multiple factors are considered and one is limited disruption of school communities. David Thompson and Westsyde Elementary have had changes in boundaries in the last three years. To change grade configurations would require changes to multiple schools and grade levels within schools causing maximum disruption. In addition, if the Board were to take on a broader boundary review, it could also impact nearby Arthur Stevenson.
 Is there an opportunity for more discussion about the boundary change? Can the Board look at the numbers and calculate what that could be?
The Board of Education has already passed a motion and the Board has indicated there will be no engagement on boundary changes.
Can you speak to the issue of families that currently attend Westmount that are outside of our catchment area and promise to restrict them?
In the School Act, we reserve the right to accept students based on space and meeting classroom composition requirements in the Collective Agreement. Every school will have students who attend but are not in the catchment area of their school. As enrolment pressures change, there is not a requirement to displace those students who have been resident to the district and to the school in question for one or multiple years. Additionally, students transfer for a range of reasons, including a need to move away from a harmful situation, and this is managed through the District transfer process, which must be honored.
What is the plan, if in the next few months, and into summer, more families move into our area and push Westmount and surrounding schools over a tolerable capacity limit again?
We rely on projections which are imperfect. We cannot know the future, but, at this time, the boundary changes balance enrolments between these three schools. If necessary, the Board would evaluate the situation and consider changes to ensure that the school was safe and educationally viable.
Has the District thought of revisiting its policy for schools of "interest" to address this current population growth and use them for "regular schools" (Science school, School of the Arts) UNTIL funding is secured to build the needed schools?

Enrolment pressures would not be alleviated by eliminating schools of choice. Students are not evenly distributed in those schools so having those students return to their designated catchment area schools would cause further enrolment pressures. 

This approach would go against the Board’s priority to connect students to their futures by focusing on their interests. Community engagement and consultation for the last district strategic plan clearly showed that students valued having voice and choice in programming.

Our understanding is that Westmount will still be over-capacity with this new change, what will be done to continue to keep students, staff, residents, and commuters safe from traffic issues, and overcrowding that will still be present?

Yes, Westmount will be over-capacity until 2025-2026 at which time, it will be at ministry standard of 100%. Also, the Board of Education aims to equalize enrolment in all schools and this boundary change achieves that for three schools. If the Board is forced into this situation again in this area, then the only option would be to move students by making boundary changes that may not reflect keeping families together in Westsyde. 

Regarding traffic safety concerns, 100 students will be going from Batchelor Heights to DT and Westsyde Elementary. Many of these students would be taking the bus or being driven to school. With these students going to different schools, the traffic congestion will be reduced. Similarly, having 100 less students on the playground will alleviate crowding concerns. 

Many have been affected by changes during COVID, lack of opportunities at school, and cancelled activities. The social and emotional well-being of children, their anxieties, and other struggles will be amplified due to this move. How do you respond?
Yes, this is why we have community engagement around this issue of how best to transition children and families to a different school. The Board makes catchment changes to be sure to increase extracurricular and sports opportunities that are known to improve students’ mental health and well-being and to provide students with access to spaces that enable students to have quiet time, sensory supports, therapeutic interventions, and targeted or one-on-one academic instruction.
Will you reach out to parents who have Kindergarten children and do not know where to go?
Yes, we have addresses of those families and will reach out.
What about busing?

There will be two buses, one for David Thompson students and another for Westsyde Elementary students. These will be dedicated for elementary students, and not transporting secondary students. 

Families will receive more information about the bus stops and pick-up times by the end of April. 

How many classes are at Westsyde Elementary and how many students are in each grade?
There are 8 grades K-7 and 250 students, so about 30-35 kids per grade, there will likely be one of each grade along with some combined grades.

Was there any consideration given to families that are designated to other schools and who are at Westmount to go back to their designated schools?

Administrative Procedure 305 School Boundaries and Student Transfer Requests

(from the AP) Once a non-catchment area student is accepted into a particular school, that student can remain at that school, with the exception of transfers that fall under section 7. There are students from outside of catchments in every school and for varied reasons (challenging relationship, marital breakdown, etc.), and there is a requirement in the School Act to permit that movement if there is sufficient space and resources.

When would we find out my son’s teacher’s name?
The same process will be followed as for all elementary schools. Generally, we have a good idea in June and we would like to communicate these names as soon as we know. If changes are needed in September, we would have the goal of keeping the students who are moving catchments to be able to stay where they are and move other kids.  
When will we be able to see the new school my child will be attending?
Tours will be arranged for the end of the year or just prior to the start of the school year. Videos are also being prepared that highlight the school staff and school environment and you will have this to access with your children.
How do you plan to transition student care plans?
If the child has an inclusive education plan (IEP) in Kindergarten, we would work with the Coordinator of Inclusive Education Services to review the specific needs for each child and we will share this with each school team and work with you to address how to meet your child’s needs.

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