French immersion decision likely made next week 

Special public meeting will be held in Whistler

The Howe Sound School Board is planning to meet next week to decide if French immersion should be offered in Whistler.

A report on the options for an immersion program was received by the board last week at its regularly scheduled meeting. But it decided to hold off making a decision until Jan. 26.

Five options were outlined to the board, along with their advantages and disadvantages, some of which are outlined below.

• Maintain the status quo. The main advantage is that it does not disrupt the student populations. One disadvantage is that it does not address expressed interest for French Immersion in Whistler nor does it offer a new education "choice" in Whistler.

• Introduce an Early French Immersion program for Kindergarten and Grade 1 only. One advantage is that in the first few years of the program the impact on both schools could be accommodated within existing resources and structures. A disadvantage is that it will see the movement of children from Myrtle Philip Community School and may cause split classes in subsequent years at both schools.

• Introduce a late French Immersion program for Grade 5 only. This would bring "a first step" in French Immersion to Whistler. However, it may not be sustainable based on the survey results of interested parents.

• Introduce a late French Immersion program for Grade 5 & 6. An advantage is that a Grade 5/6 split, could enhance sustainability (the survey results for Grade 6 entry included 13 students). However, A sole French immersion class will have little presence in the school.

• Introduce both an early and late French Immersion program. This could lead to a vibrant French Immersion program as it would mean that a large number of students are enrolled in two entry points. One disadvantage though is the large impact it would have on both schools.

"On Wednesday, what I anticipate will happen is that the board will determine that one of the options will be the one that they will be in favour of," said superintendent Dr. Rick Erickson.

It’s likely the board will then offer some guidelines for the number of students needed to make the option viable and an official registration process will be started.

The results of the registration must be in by Feb. 9 to give the school board enough time to organize the program if it is to begin this September.

For more background and to confirm the date, time, and site of the upcoming meeting in Whistler go to www.sd48.bc.ca.

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