Siblings-first registration sparks debate

Priority registration for siblings in programs of choice left the Vernon School District divided

Priority registration for siblings in programs of choice left the district divided.

A policy that would prioritize registration for siblings in programs of choice — such as French immersion — on a first come first serve basis was defeated on its second reading, following a vote of three for and three against as the Vernon School District board of education met Wednesday, Dec. 20.

Chair Kelly Smith, alongside other trustees, said that they have not had adequate time to consult their parent advisory councils prior to voting.

“Our jobs as trustees is to look in the future,” Smith said. “I have to speak against that (siblings first) policy. I don’t think it fits our vision.”

Trustee Mitzi Fortin, who also voted against a second and third reading, put forward a motion to table the motion for decision in January to allow time for consultation with PACs; however, Fortin’s motion was defeated by a vote of three-to-three.

“If we’re going to implement this new policy, it needs to be approved by Jan. 15,” superintendent Joe Rogers said, noting the day registration opens.

Given the fast-approaching registration and the tendency for French immersion programs to fill within the early hours of Jan. 15, trustee Lisa DeBoer said time is of the essence.

“I think it’s really important for families to keep their children together. I would speak for this,” DeBoer said to applause from the full audience of parents.

Jay Graham, a father of three who has two children attending Beairsto Elementary, urged the board to reconsider the policy after its defeat.

“I can speak firsthand that (kids) learn more together, and it’s important for them to be together,” Graham said. “You’ve postponed a decision that will have a direct impact on families.”

No motion for reconsideration was made and current policies remain in effect.

“It is obviously a very complex decision moving forward,” Rogers said.

RELATED: Parents lobby to increase French immersion

RELATED: (SD No. 83) Extra space for French immersion


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