Choice program changes may be in works

School board considering adjustments to rules about when and how parents can register their children for popular programs, schools

Some big changes are being proposed for who can get into choice programs in Langley schools and how they can do that.

Parents’ practice of registering unborn children for choice programs and some families registering for several schools at once, with the hope of getting into one, has overwhelmed the system, leading to long waitlists and upset parents, said Langley assistant superintendent Claire Guy.

“Especially with French immersion and fundamental we have heard concerns about access and long waiting lists,” said Guy, at the most recent board of education meeting.

In the past, parents would camp outside of Langley Fundamental for days to get their child into the program. The district moved registration to the School Board Office to eliminate the camp outs about three years ago.

“The current process is extremely labour intensive and antiquated,” said Guy of the application and registration procedures.

The district is asking the board to vote in favour of some proposed changes, including eliminating the ability to register unborn children.

Under the new policy, which hasn’t been reviewed since 2001, parents will be limited to applying to two choice programs and would only be allowed to apply 11 months in advance of their child entering school.

However, applications to some schools, including Langley Fine Arts can take place two years prior.

Once the child is accepted into a choice program, the parents have 48 hours to accept the placement.

Langley residents will have first pick with Langley siblings being given first priority to get in but not if the siblings live out of district, said Guy.

If you are already on a waitlist, you won’t be bumped off, she said. Living beside a choice program school wouldn’t give a student priority over any other district student.

Comments about the changes can be sent to lmason@sd35.bc.ca. The board will vote on the proposed changes at its December meeting.

Langley Times