(For this week re: time sensitive information included)
Re: Proposed caps and cuts to instructional time for French Immersion in UGDSB.
In the rural community of Palmerston, the French Immersion program offered there is fed by eight local towns, villages and hamlets: Arthur, Mount Forest, Kenilworth, Drayton, Clifford, Palmerston, Moorefield and Harriston. With the proposed cap of 25 students, only 3 children from each community would be granted entry into the program. In fact, since the Board is also proposing a lottery-style-random selection process, some of these communities could be granted zero entrants into the program. Also, within such a random selection scenario, not all children from the same household would necessarily have access to the same program. Currently, our school has 37 JK French Immersion students….so, which 12 would have been deleted from the roster?
In terms of economic development for these communities, since interest in French Immersion is clearly on the rise, this type of ‘no-guarantee of access’ is sure to discourage French Immersion teachers, professionals and young families in general from settling and building businesses in our rural municipalities – or within our board for that matter. I realize that our board is nearing a staffing crisis as there are simply not enough French Immersion teachers and support staff; however, there are many innovative recruitment strategies that the Board and/or its HR Department have yet to employ. It makes me wonder why the future opportunities of our children should be jeopardized due to this (frankly) foreseeable situation.
I urge our Trustees and Senior Administration to consider some more creative methods to bridge the gap between the existing instructional framework and the ones it is currently proposing. Please focus on ways to fill current gaps in the delivery of the program rather than cut instructional time. This can and should include the creative use of French speaking individuals and programming itself. In my opinion, this would be a far more positive approach to the dilemmas our Board is facing.
Our Board’s Business Operations Committee meets on May 10th at 7:00 pm to review and finalize its decisions on these matters. It is my hope that parents will join me in attending this meeting at our Board office to show just how much we care about the education our children are receiving within the French Immersion program, and how much we value it in its current form. Our kids’ future opportunities are literally in their hands.