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Request for French immersion turned down again

Council won't send letter to school board

By Alison Taylor

The Pemberton Parents For French Immersion (PPFI) have again appealed for council’s support after the group was turned down at the last meeting.

And, for the second time in a row, council turned down their request to encourage the board of the Howe Sound School District to develop a French Immersion Policy.

The debate grew contentious at the end of a long day of council meetings and tensions ran high late Tuesday night.

“This is ridiculous,” stated Councillor Ralph Forsyth, of council’s unwillingness to support the letter from the PFFI. “We’re asked to write a simple letter and we’re not going to write it because we don’t have the guts.”

The mayor took those comments as an affront.

“We can’t go down this road until we’ve talked to the school board,” explained the mayor.

He also alluded to the fact that he made an error several months ago at the council table in assuming the province was to blame for cutbacks to childcare funding. He wanted to get more information from the Whistler school trustees before appealing to the school board to change its decision.

“I don’t believe it’s appropriate for us to make the school board’s decision,” said the mayor.

Councillor Gord McKeever said council’s decision was painted by some as anti-French immersion, which is not the case.

“I do not want to insult a partner (the Howe Sound School District)… by assuming that we know more than they do,” he said.

In May the school board did not support implementation of an Early Immersion program at Signal Hill Elementary School for the fall of 2007.

Both Forsyth and Councillor Tim Wake supported the request from the PPFI.