Parents Suzan Nowaczynski, Jen Koss and Stephen Locke told the Abbotsford school board Administative Procedure 336 was unfairly affecting their fmaily. Kelvin Gawley/Abbotsford News

Abbotsford school enrolment procedure revised to reduce confusion, crowding

AP 336 became known as a ‘swear word’ for the headaches it caused

The Abbotsford school district is reversing a complicated procedure that upset some and confused many more – including, at times, the man who crafted it.

Superintendent Kevin Godden said that Administrative Procedure 336 (AP 336) jokingly became known as a “swear word” at the district office, as it caused headaches for administrators.

The procedure sets a hierarchy of priority for student enrolment. Kids attending their catchment school are first to be enrolled in that school the next year, followed by their siblings new to the school.

Next, schools enrolled (in order):

– non-catchment students accepted before June 2016

– their siblings

– new in-catchment students

– non-catchment students who attended the school the previous year

– new non-catchment kids

– kids who live outside the district

School board trustees passed AP 336 in 2014, hoping it would help control enrolment at crowded east-side schools, while keeping families together. But it ended up creating more difficult situations and problems than anticipated, several trustees said at a board meeting Tuesday.

In May, a group of parents told the board their children were “emotionally and psychologically shaken” after learning they wouldn’t be able to transfer to Abbotsford Middle from South Poplar Traditional Elementary. The children were considered new in-catchment students and given low priority for enrolment at Abbotsford Middle and top priority at Abbotsford Traditional Middle, based on the assumption they wanted to continue in the traditional tract.

In June, more parents came before the board with complaints about how AP 336 was affecting them.

They said it was unfair that they had to bus their children to Mountain Elementary while non-catchment kids were able to attend their neighbourhood school, McMillan Elementary.

These were just some of the difficult situations that arose from AP 336 that vexed district administrators.

In May, board chair Shirley Wilson told The News she felt for the South Poplar parents but there was nothing trustees could do, as AP 336 had to be followed. She said the board had struggled to come up with a fair policy that met all of its goals.

“We have wrestled with this, we have lost sleep over this as seven individuals [trustees],” Wilson said. “This has been one of the most difficult things that I have gone through in my entire [12 year] tenure as a trustee because we don’t want any students not to have their needs met – that is just not our goal.”

On Tuesday, Godden presented a simplified AP 336 to the board with grandfather clauses for non-catchment students and their siblings removed. All non-catchment students will now have to reapply each school year to remain in their school.

This will ensure catchment students have top priority, with exceptions being made based on “good judgment of the caring people who are dealing with it,” Godden said, referring to administrators.

The simpler AP 336 is preferable to trying to write a new rule for every situation that arises, Godden said. The revised administrative procedure will apply to registration for the 2018/19 school year.


@KelvinGawley
kelvin.gawley@abbynews.com

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