Today’s Poll

Shortage of French Immersion program spots has parents lobbying SD8

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
April 26th, 2011

A simple case of demand exceeding supply has many parents in Nelson angry with School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake) when it comes to French Immersion.

A meeting has been set for Tuesday night  — Trafalgar School, 7-8:30 p.m. — to begin to address the growing concern that there aren’t enough French Immersion spots open to meet the demand.

Currently there are 86 people on the waiting list for the upcoming school year but there are only 60 spots open in two Grade 6 classrooms, predicating the need for a third class. For the 2010-2011 school year, over 90 applications were received for 60 student spaces in two classes. 

Superintendent of schools Jeff Jones said there has been a request from some parents for the district to consider the opportunities and challenges of opening a third class, expanding the late French Immersion program at its present location.

However, the school district stated in the past there are only two classes being offered at Trafalgar School with no plans to add another.

“Although administration does see a significant challenge in meeting this request for a number of reasons, we feel it is important to seek any creative solutions we may have overlooked,” he said in his report to the board on April 19.

At the last SD8 board of trustees meeting, comments from concerned parents poured in asking for them to reconsider the stance of limiting enrollment to only two classes.

“If this was a matter of a private institution and there was a wait list, we wouldn’t be here,” wrote one concerned parent to the board. “This is a public institution and should provide service to the students.”

Another parent concurred, saying, “The kids that are going into French Immersion should be able to choose, and I think there should be a third class.”

The school district presently offers a late French Immersion program for students, commencing in Grade 6. The program is only offered at Trafalgar School and is not offered in any other areas of the district.

In addition to the current issues, the French Immersion challenge has brought to the school district’s attention a number or related issues that will be brought forward at the meeting for future community consultations.

In January the SD8 board was alerted to a potential problem of too many students in the French Immersion program at Trafalgar.



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