Demand for French immersion is outstripping resources.
Beairsto Elementary’s French immersion kindergarten classes will shift to Alexis Park Elementary in September.
“We need an extra classroom for Grade 7 students and we don’t have an extra classroom,” said Bev Rundell, Vernon School District superintendent.
There are currently 58 Grade 7 students at Beairsto and that’s expected to climb to 80 in the 2013/14 school year.
Alexis Park was selected for about 43 kindergarten students because space is available there. There are also already two French immersion kindergarten classes at Harwood Elementary.
Rundell says French immersion continues to be popular with parents and students in the district and the implementation of full-day kindergarten has had an impact on space.
But not everyone is pleased with the district’s decision.
“The parent advisory council’s initial requests to them were to alleviate the issue of overcrowding at Beairsto and develop a long-term plan for the growth of French Immersion. They did neither,” said Felicia O’Gorman, Beairsto PAC president.
“What they did do was decide to move two kindergarten classes from Beairsto to Alexis Park. This, however, only reduces Beairsto population by about 10, as the projection for next year is an additional 40 students (from all grades).”
O’Gorman believes the district should have looked at the growth of French immersion as an opportunity.
“They obviously saw it as a problem, and came up with a reactive rather than proactive solution,” she said.
“Already we have parents concerned about what this will do to the program.”
Rundell says Alexis Park, like Harwood, was selected for kindergarten because of its proximity to Beairsto. Elementary
“It’s all part of the W.L. Seaton Secondary family with French immersion,” she said.