Forum on French Immersion

The first of two forums to discuss changes to Mission’s French Immersion program will take place April 8 at Mission Central.

The first of two forums to discuss changes to Mission’s French Immersion (FI) program will take place April 8 at Mission Central elementary (MCE) school.

A second meeting has been scheduled for April 29 at Christine Morrison elementary (CME). Both meetings begin at 7 p.m.

The first one will be a round-table discussion, said Mission Public Schools board chair Rick McKamey. “The exercise is to get the thoughts of all partner groups, parents, and students on paper.”

The information collected will be presented at the follow-up meeting later in the month.

FI is currently available at two schools alongside English programming. Earlier this year, school board trustees initiated discussions to move FI into one, single track school to create a more effective and equitable program for all FI students.

“We now have two school that are so different,” said McKamey, noting CME is well equipped, compared to MCE, where there are low attendance numbers.

There are about 260 FI students at CME and 70 students at MCE.

“There’s quite an inequity,” said McKamey, noting there are some classes with a three-grade split at the school with fewer students.

School district staff noticed the discrepancy and brought it to the board’s attention, he added.

Trustee Jim Taylor, who is the FI representative on the board, noted the two forums are open to everyone, not just those attending the schools they are held at.

Taylor said he will work to make sure all voices are heard, but that trustees must always consider the finances involved.

It is more expensive to run the program in two schools, and the district needs to decide the value of keeping it that way, said McKamey.

“On the upside of a single track, everything is delivered in French (such as assemblies and school announcements) and children in the program get that much more French and the educational value increases,” offered McKamey.

“The upside to a dual-track school is students don’t have a sense of segregation; French and English students are mixing.”

“I’m very open-minded,” said McKamey, who knows there will be some disappointed with the decision that will eventually be made.

A decision is expected to be made by next February and any changes to the FI program will take effect in September 2016.