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Board okays new French immersion program - if enough students register next fall

by Chris Daponte

GUELPH

Many parents in Guelph-Eramosa have mixed feelings about plans for a new French immersion program in Rockwood.

They’re pleased the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) will start a new program for young students in September 2014, but they are still unsure about the educational future of older children in the area.

“We’re thrilled for Rockwood,” parent Rachel McClelland said of the board’s June 26 approval of a new program. “But we just don’t know where that leaves our own kids.”

Last week the board ratified a committee decision to offer a Rockwood French immersion program for the 2014-15 school year - as long as enough students register the previous fall.

“We’re going to grow it up, year by year,” said board spokesperson Maggie McFadzen.

She added a recent study by the board committee indicated there were not enough older French immersion students in the area to support a full JK-to-6 or JK-to-8 program.

Therefore, the board plans to implement a program for kindergarten students, and possibly the first grade, and then expand the program by one grade each year until 2019 or 2020, when it will include all grades from kindergarten to grade 6.

At that time the program would be reviewed, with the possibility of expanding further to a “K-to-8” program.

The possibility of a Rockwood French immersion program surfaced as a result of a controversial board decision to alter the boundary for Edward Johnson Public School in Guelph.

The decision effectively forced French immersion students living in Rockwood, Everton, Eden Mills and the surrounding rural areas to transfer from the Guelph school to Erin schools.

Reacting to the outrage of many affected parents, who felt they had a strong connection to Guelph and none at all to Erin, the board agreed to grandfather students and their younger siblings for two years at King George Public School in Guelph.

The board also agreed to look into a French immersion program in Rockwood.

“We are grateful for what the board’s done,” McClelland told the Advertiser.

But we’re kind of feeling in limbo ... At the end of the day, Erin still doesn’t work for us.”

McClelland said she will still be faced with the difficult decision in several years with her own children - now aged 7 and 8 - whether to send them to Erin schools or remove them from the French immersion program so they can attend a school closer to home.

She added parents are still hoping the board will alter its previous decision and allow French immersion students currently enrolled at Guelph schools to “finish that path.”

Even if there are enough students to start a new program in 2014, its location is still undetermined.

“We don’t have a site as of yet,” said McFadzen.

Board officials have suggested any new French immersion program would be offered either at Rockwood Centennial Public School, which is already overcrowded, or at a new school proposed to open in 2014 to coincide with the province’s full-day kindergarten program.

The committee has pledged to identify the location for the program by December 2013.

Vol 45 Issue 27

July 6, 2012

ReliableFord

Pet of the Week -  Alpanie

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