The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District will be adding an additional French Immersion K-Grade 1 class to accommodate demand for the program this year. -Image credit: File photo

The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District will be adding an additional French Immersion K-Grade 1 class to accommodate demand for the program this year. -Image credit: File photo

Extra space for French immersion

The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District is offering an additional K-1 class at Bastion Elementary

Parents anxious to have their children enrolled in French immersion for the coming year have received a lucky break.

After looking at the numbers and the catchment areas of potential students, the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District has decided to open up an additional K-1 class at Bastion Elementary for the coming school year only.

The school will convert a computer lab into a classroom and use in-class alternative technology options, like laptops or iPads, instead. The number of English classes at the school will also remain the same as in previous years.

“We had 26 siblings coming into early immersion this year, which is a really high number, plus students on the wait list from last year, wanting to get into Grade 1. In addition, we had 24 families attend the immersion meeting wanting spaces, so we were looking at potentially very long lines and very few available spaces,” says Isabelle Gervais, principal at Bastion. “As well, many of these kids wanting French actually lived in the Bastion catchment area and we were not going to be able to accommodate them even in English, so we decided adding a another French immersion class was the best way to try and meet all the needs.”

As well, the reduction in class sizes that stems from the Supreme Court ruling in favour of the BC Teachers’ Federation also had an impact on available spaces.

Gervais says this is a one-time scenario, as the physical space in the school is limited.

“I don’t anticipate this will be happening in future years, but for now we will be able to manage this additional class of students as they move the whole way through.”

All the parents who attended the French immersion meeting have been contacted and informed they will have a place in the program should they want it. This may leave a few spaces open for other families who might not have attended the initial meeting to register their child for a spot. These parents, along with those already on a Grade 1 wait list, will have to commit to the program by April 4, before general registration for the program opens for the remaining slots on April 5.