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Parents lineup overnight for French immersion in Kamloops

February 15, 2016 - 4:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - Some Kamloops parents spent Valentine's Day out in the cold as they waited for Kindergarten registration to open up.

They were concerned about getting their children into Lloyd George School, one of the district’s two French immersion schools.

Superintendent Karl deBruijn says all the spaces for French immersion kindergarten have been filled.

“There has been a lineup the last couple years,” deBruijn says. “I was surprised it went overnight. People were concerned about space.”

He says there have always been enough seats for students entering French immersion in the past.

“There are 57 spaces at Lloyd George and 52 at South Sahali. My understanding is that all those spaces are full and we have a wait list,” he says. “That’s unfortunate. But it’s positive that we have such a great deal of interest in the French immersion.”

Derrick Crawford was one of the parents who stood in line overnight. He says the first chair arrived around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14 and the lineup snowballed from there. He was 21st person to arrive at about 3 p.m.

“My friend got a text from someone saying ‘Look, there’s six people here, you’d better start getting down here.’ So he came and got number 18 and he texted me and said ‘You better get down here, there’s 18 people down here and we’re all texting our friends,’” he says. “So I was at Costco with my wife shopping when I got this and she says ‘Ok we’re dropping you off and putting you in line.’ So I sat in line and she went and got all my supplies.”

“It was cold. You don’t have a lot of protection,” he says. “My wife brought me... coffee, she brought me dinner, she brought me snowpants.”

The school’s principal, Alain Blais, says the line included teachers from the school and an administrator from another part of the district.

“It’s a school of choice and our catchment are is quite big, so it starts, usually, when the first person lines up and then it just grows with social media and as word gets out,” Blais says.

Crawford says he’d been told to expect the line to start 11 p.m. or later. However, the district changed kindergarten registration rules this year. Now siblings of students already attending the school could apply advance. This meant instead of the typical 57 seats being available to everyone at the same time, there were an unknown number of seats available to families new to Lloyd George School when general registration opened this morning, Feb 15.

“Siblings have priority. We had 27 siblings register,” Blais says. “It can fluctuate a bit if we have kids move away. Spots could open up.”

Crawford says there was also discussion among parents about how the line-up method is unfair.

“It’s like a system for the privileged. If there’s a single mom who doesn’t have the resources to have someone watch their child overnight, they don’t have a chance to come to this school,” he says.

Some in the group suggested a lottery after the initial registration, so that all children had an equal chance of attending the school.

“Some people perceive a lottery to be more fair, but there would still be disappointment,” says deBruijn. “Our schools of choice have always been offered on a first come first serve basis.”

For those parents who missed registering for French immersion this year, deBruijn says they can try again next year for Grade 1 intake. He says the school board is considering options to open up more space in French immersion.

“I think there’s a good potential to open some space next year,” he says. “It involves preparation, recruiting and preparing the space.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin at bkergin@infonews.ca or call 250-819-6089. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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