Surging demand pushes French Immersion expansion into West Kelowna school
By John McDonald
French Immersion program in the Cental Okanagan school district continues to grow.
(JOHN MCDONALD / iNFOnews.ca)
January 14, 2015 - 11:54 AM
POPULAR LANGUAGE PROGRAM LEAVES ONE LOCAL SCHOOL MORE FRENCH THAN ENGLISH
KELOWNA - Surging demand for French Immersion in the Central Okanagan School District has the only middle school that offers the program well beyond capacity and it’s just a matter of time before the popular program needs to expand into West Kelowna.
That’s the message school trustees will hear tonight from superintendent of schools Hugh Gloster, who says the program is pushing physical limits at Ecole KLO Middle School and needs to expand into the Westside’s Glenrosa MIddle School — the only space available — by September, 2015.
“There is high demand, no question, with significant capacity issues. The board has no choice but to deal with this,” confirmed Gloster, who said the pressure stems from the introduction of grade K-3 immersion at Dorothea Walker several years ago. “That cohort is now approaching the middle school grades.”
But with Ecole KLO Middle already some 160 kids over its 700-student capacity, there is nowhere to put them.
Gloster said adding more portables to the seven already on-site is not a solution.
“It will only put more pressure on the common spaces like the gym, library and washrooms,” he said.
The majority of the school's students, roughly 450 this year, are in French Immersion and projections are the enrolment in the English program will continue to decline, even as overall enrolment increases to just over 900 students by 2021.
Gloster said trustees will be presented with two options; keeping kids at George Pringle Elementary, a French Immersion feeder school on the Westside for another year or sending them to Glenrosa Middle School this year. There is also the possibility of bringing some French Immersion students from West Kelowna who have already moved to Ecole KLO back to Glenrosa Middle as another way to relieve the pressure.
Gloster said tonight’s presentation to the school board is primarily informational because some of then newly elected trustees have yet to deal directly with the issue.
“We want to bring everyone up to speed,” said Gloster, who added there will still be considerable opportunity for people to comment on the plan. Besides tonight’s public board meeting, the board will receive comment at the general affairs committee meeting, Feb. 4 and a week later during the regular board meeting, Feb. 11. All meetings begin at 6 p.m. and are held at the school district head office at 1940 Underhill Street.
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