Idea for single-track French immersion school in central Okanagan abandoned – Kelowna Capital News

A proposal to establish a single-track French immersion school for the Okanagan Mission was rejected by the Central Okanagan School District’s Planning and Facilities Committee.

The committee will recommend to the Central Okanagan School Board meeting on January 26 that the school district’s current dual-track English/French immersion policy be maintained.

School administrators struggled with the single/dual track argument, but the prevailing sentiment was that the single track was an unfair shift in the equity of school resources and would leave students isolated from English-speaking students and the community at the wider.

The committee is made up of three school trustees, but all other non-voting school trustees attended the meeting.

As part of the catchment area changes, the committee opted to transfer K-2 English and French Immersion programs from Dorothea Walker Elementary to Bellevue Creek Elementary, a closed school that is expected to reopen for the 2022-2023 school year.

Dorothea Walker will lead a dual track program from grades 3-6. Bellevue Creek will begin with K-1 in 2022-23 and expand to K-2 in 2023-24 to minimize initial disruption to students.

Further catchment changes will see The Ponds and Crawford Estates areas moved to the Dorothea Walker/Bellevue Creek Elementary catchment area, while families in the area between Barnaby and Frost roads will be moved to Anne McClymont Elementary.

Revised intake limits for Mission schools. (Contributed)

All students will remain in their current schools, with the exception of K-2 Dorothea Walker students now assigned to Bellevue Creek to begin their elementary schooling.

The changes also provide a one-year reprieve for existing child care programs to continue operating at Bellevue Creek.

Two additional child care programs are expected to open in the Mission District for the 2023-2024 school year as both school district initiatives have been confirmed for provincial funding.

Administrator Chantelle Desrosiers, chair of the committee, said the school district is mindful of trying to minimize disruption to students and families with the catchment changes while trying to preserve and improve access to the French immersion.

She said administrators understand the benefits of these capture adjustments, but haven’t lost sight of the short-term pain of student displacement and the impact it has on families.

“And as a family who considers French immersion important to you, I can relate to the idea that being surrounded by the French language all the time in a one-track school would be a very appealing option,” he said. she declared.

Administrator Moyra Baxter, president of the Central Okanagan Board of Education, said while there was a positive response in parent surveys from the Okanagan Mission to a single-track FI school “it doesn’t mean not that we should”.

Baxter said trustees are elected to act in the best interests of the entire school district and that talking to parents face-to-face is just as, if not more representative than people answering survey questions or sending emails. emails.

And if a single-track FI school is adopted for the Mission, the idea will attract attention from other areas of the school district, she added.

Councilor Lee-Ann Tiede said her three children are all enrolled in French immersion and she sees the benefits of the two-track policy for them.

“I have seen a lot of benefits in having two languages ​​spoken in a school and the student mixing between the two,” Tiede said.

“You see the interaction that takes place on the school grounds and with the kids in sports, because there are no French immersion and English teams.”

Zach Johnson, who attended the meeting as a representative of the Central Okanagan Student Council, said the divide between FI and English is more evident at the middle and high school levels than at the elementary level.

“I think when it comes to choosing electives and needing to take additional language lessons, English students don’t have to worry about the differences,” Johnson said.

Ryan Stierman, secretary-treasurer of Central Okanagan Public Schools, said the debate between single-track and dual-track schools is philosophical for administrators, but either way, it doesn’t change the school district’s commitment to provide a quality educational experience for both FI and English students.

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