Children, parents upset about sudden reconfiguration at Royston Elementary

Angela Barry says Monday was a difficult day at Royston Elementary School, and there were many tears when parents dropped their children off at school.

Angela Barry says Monday was a difficult day at Royston Elementary School, and there were many tears when parents dropped their children off at school.It’s Barry’s understanding that Royston Elementary was notified at 2:35 p.m. Friday by the school board that they were not happy with the class configurations at the school.Barry’s son was one of the many students moved after four days of classes, as he went from a straight Grade 1 class to a Grade 1/2 combined class.”I don’t have a huge issue with it; my issue is the fact that nobody took into consideration how many children were being affected,” she said. “There were a lot of really upset children and in turn, a lot of upset parents. There were kids crying.””I was fortunate in this situation; the change didn’t affect (my son), but I think he’s the exception, not the rule,” she added. “I’m sure these kids will settle in, but that’s not the point. Why put them through this in the first place?”I think it’s a pretty sad day when there are kids crying in the hallways and their mothers are crying because they’re upset, and for what?”Parents were phoned during the weekend, said Barry, who received a call Sunday afternoon from principal Barbara Robertson saying the class configurations needed to be changed.”I think the teachers and principal did everything they could to make the transition as seamless as possible,” said Barry. “Regardless of that fact and with all their effort, there were a lot of upset people.”The person who made the decision wasn’t there. They make these arbitrary decisions, and they don’t take into effect what effect it has on families and parents.”I’m just shocked they put kids, parents and teachers through this for a reason nobody can explain. It’s not like they added a whole bunch of kids to the school or added staff or took staff away.”Barry noted that one teacher made the comment, “Where is the school district now?” Monday morning as she was trying to console a six-year-old boy and his mother.”I don’t think the school board took into effect who this might affect because of what it looks like on paper,” she said. “Those kids have been settled in for four days now. There were a lot of upset children today, especially primary children.”The changes at Royston Elementary are related to the district aggregate for elementary schools across School District 71, according to Allan Douglas, the district’s director of elementary instruction.At the end of the first week of school, district staff collects all the data from every elementary class from every elementary school in the district and compiles it into the district aggregate, explained Douglas.”It tells us across all classes in the school district if we’ve reached the number we need to reach,” he said.For kindergarten, the district aggregate across all classes must be 19, while the aggregate for Grades 1 to 3 is 21, and the Grades 4 to 7 aggregate is 30.The district aggregate was higher at kindergarten, and Douglas says there are two ways to respond to that — by reorganizing the classroom numbers or by adding staff, as was the case at Brooklyn Elementary School, where one teacher was added.”We have to go to places that have higher numbers in kindergarten and maybe lower numbers in intermediate,” explained Douglas. “At Royston, they have intermediate classes with numbers in the low 20s, when we need them to be 26, 27.”We need them to take some of these numbers up so the primary numbers will be smaller. We had several schools reorganize, and Royston was one.”Douglas says schools do a “really good job” of letting parents know that the first week of school is very fluid, and things can change.He was impressed that Robertson personally phoned all the parents Friday evening and throughout the weekend so they would be prepared Monday morning.”I thought that was admirable for her to do that,” he said. “All the teachers at Royston do a great job. It’s a time where I’ve always said to parents in all my years doing this that with support from the home and parents supporting the school and supporting these moves, they usually work out in the end. You just need to give it time.”The reorganizing to meet the district aggregate is now settled, although the provincial aggregate must be monitored all year, explained Douglas.writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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