The Central Okanagan School District has decided to move forward and make a decision on a catchment area change for Lake Country early next month, despite some strong words from the chairperson.
About 80 people packed into a meeting Wednesday in Kelowna, where the district’s planning and facilities committee voted to send a recommendation for changing Lake Country catchment areas to the regular school board Feb. 11.
The committee voted two-to-one to send the recommendation to the board meeting despite a plea from school board chairperson Moyra Baxter, who says the entire process has been flawed.
“I think we made a mistake,” said Baxter.
“We have used a process that is flawed. I think what we should have done is hold one of these meetings where everyone gets up and says what they think and listen to other people. Lake Country is a great community and it’s terrible that we have parts of the community pitted against each other.”
In what was an emotional meeting, a few parents and community members were even brought to tears when trying to express themselves. A large group of parents from the Lakes subdivision in showed up at the meeting to demand that their children not be sent to Oyama Traditional School instead of their current school at Davidson Road.
Of the three Lake Country elementary schools, Davidson Road is above capacity while Peter Greer and Oyama Traditional are both under capacity. Parents from the Lakes stood up to voice opposition to their children traveling to Oyama.
They submitted a petition of 270 signatures to the committee and broke out in applause when it appeared their children would not be moved.
With many saying they wouldn’t send their kids to Oyama, longtime Oyama resident Allan Gatzke made an emotional plea to the community.
“Five generations of my family went to school in Oyama,” said Gatzke, holding back tears.
“We hear concern about someone from the Lakes or Woodsdale Road coming to Oyama and I would like to tell those people that it’s not a bad thing. The quality of education, especially when endorsed by a strong community, has value that is sometimes missed when you are just talking logistics. I encourage you (the committee) to consider the viability of that community out there.”
Baxter asked for the entire process be delayed to allow trustees to study the information and make a decision. Her plea fell on deaf ears and the committee voted to accept a staff recommendation and ask for a final vote on the issue at the regular board meeting.
If adopted, the recommendation would send students from Woodsdale Road to Oyama, with children from parts of the southwest area of Lake Country to Peter Greer. Students in the Lakes would remain ar Davidson Road Elementary.