New West school board looks at a lottery option for accepting students
This would occur in the event too many students enrolled at a particular school
It was a night of celebration for the school district with the final New West school board meeting of the 2021-2022 school year. However, there were still some tough conversations to be had around choosing which students would be able to attend the school in their catchment — in the event too many register.
Reports shown during the meeting noted 92% of school sites in the districts are severely undersized. For the 2022-2023 school year, 24 students who were set to be enrolled at Qayqayt Elementary were sent to other schools.
“The problem becomes far more stressed in succeeding years, as there is no possibility to accommodate any enrolment growth at Kelvin and Qayqayt, making a lottery process necessary, and thus displacing well over 100 students,” the short-term capacity review reads.
Associate Supt. Maryam Nassar said the district is at a point where staff need to be prepared for cases where too many students apply to one school. “[A lottery] is what we do in other programs, such as programs of choice where there is limited capacity,” said Nassar.
“At what point is that [draw] done? If someone registers the day after, and they’re the first in line, then they’re told, ‘sorry, you’re going into a draw?’ ” asked trustee Danielle Connelly. In that case, Supt. Nassar said the draw would include registrations from November through January, noting capacity issues tend to affect kindergarten the most. “We would then run a draw for the number of spaces available,” said Nassar, “and then begin a wait list.” Students unable to get a spot would go to the school that’s the next closest to them.
The only other option would be to go by a time and date stamp of application, according to Nassar. “We would look at all applications based on when, after the first Monday of November, they applied, and we would take them in the order that they registered,” said, adding this method isn’t preferred as it can create very long physical line-ups of people who will stay overnight to register.
Trustee Maya Russell said she was strongly in favour of the randomized draw. “It’s been several years since we experienced randomized enrolment. I remember participating in it when I was trying to get my kid into Queens Park preschool. You had families who would literally sleep overnight in Queens Park in order to assure their child of a space,” she said.
Trustee Connelly agreed with the preschool experience, but noted that some of the points Russell had brought up involved programs of choice. “I’m kind of seeing the equity piece through a different lens…I feel like a draw in this instance is less equitable for those who are there, who have done all the right things, and perhaps they’re finding out two months later that they actually can’t get into their school,” explained Connelly.
Trustee Mary Lalji wondered if it was better to take registration fully online. “The real question here is why is our district still hosting registrations where people have to line up outside? That to me is the real issue,” she said. “Within the last two years of things going online, this should be very simple to do.”
Curious: last night at the @newwestschools meeting trustees & staff talked about whether a lottery or a time-and-date stamp method would be best for enrollment if schools had too many kids applying. Which do you think is best? #bced#munipoli#newwest
— Ria Renouf (@riarenouf)
Jun 22, 2022
Other meeting highlights:
- A parent named Carol said her son had talked to her about some negative experiences at the high school. “Some football players have had hot coffee spilled on them, and they’re being called rapists,” she said, noting that this happened amid discussions of sexual harassment and assault at NWSS. “I think it’s important we have a view of understanding the issues between the students who are making statements about assault and harassment, alongside the students who are being accused of it.” Both chair Dhaliwal and Supt. Hachlaf expressed their disappointment in this, and assured Carol that this would be looked into. Chair Dhaliwal reiterated points made at a previous meeting by SEAS (which stands for Safety, Education, Advocacy and Support), saying that SEAS wanted to work collaboratively with the football players.
- Presenting on behalf of the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC), Cyrus Sy announced there would be an all-candidates meeting for school trustees happening in October. Reflecting on the past year, Sy said DPAC was hoping to work on better health supports for students, better transportation for students coming from Queensborough to NWSS, and continued dialogue between NWSS, SEAS and DPAC.
- Supt. Karim Hachlaf talked about how happy he was to see the Welcome Centre become a reality, noting that this was also a space in which to actively practise the district’s sanctuary schools policy.
The next school board meeting will take place in September.