April 06, 2015 - 7:33 PM
PENTICTON - A school in Penticton may be able to offer French immersion programming, but it doesn't have a proper gym or playground and needs help offering recreational activities to students.
Up until about four years ago the city considered Ecole Entre-Lacs to be part of School District 67 and the school was able to use city facilities at a discounted rate. The school is actually part of the province's French school district though and in June 2011, when the error was discovered, the school found itself suddenly paying $120 for ice time at McLaren Park Arena that previously cost $30.
School District 67 — the city’s English school board — has a joint use agreement with the city, where school facilities can be used by the city in exchange for allowing students use of city infrastructure at a reduced rate. Ecole Entre-Lacs is part of the province’s singular French school district and cannot take advantage of a similar agreement with the city because they have no facilities to offer the city in return.
Ecole Entre-Lacs Principal Fariba Daragahi has now approached Penticton city council to ask them to consider an agreement to allow the city's only French language school to use the facilities at a reduced rate.
“We rent the school from School District 67,” Daragahi explained, noting the French school board, district 93, is subject to the same provincial funding rules as English boards.
In 2010 B.C.’s French school board launched a lawsuit against the province in a fight for the same infrastructure funding as English school boards.
“We haven’t got an appropriate gym or playground,” Daragahi said, noting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to French education in every province.
Daragahi met with the mayor and City of Penticton Recreation Services Manager Chuck Loewen, who said a joint agreement wouldn’t work with the school.
She then approached city council in March to present her case to council in a bid to get an agreement of some kind from the city. Mayor Andrew Jakubeit listened to her presentation, suggesting a grant might be possible, and promised to get back to her.
“The lawsuit against the province looks promising but is going to take some time. It was my right to present my case to council,” Daragahi said, noting the school provides cultural diversity as well as an economic contribution to the city.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015