Mission school board discuss changes to the district's French Immersion program.

School board considers single FI program

Trustees say parents will be consulted in the process

Mission school district is considering moving the French Immersion (FI) program into one school.

School district staff will consult with parents and other partner groups over the feasibility of a standalone school, which could be in place as early as September 2015.

Parents of FI students packed the library at Fraserview Learning Centre on Seventh Avenue at the board meeting Tuesday night. The original motion on the agenda recommended the implementation of a single track (one school only) FI program.

The motion was amended twice to include include the words “feasibility” and “parent input” before it was unanimously passed.

Currently, FI is being offered at two schools, Christine Morrison and Mission Central elementary schools.

While several trustees said combining the programs may be the way to move the program forward, no one wanted to approve it until parents and the school community were consulted.

“This is not saying it will definitely happen,” said trustee Shelley Carter. “This is the start of a process. It’s something we have to look at for financial and program reasons. I know some parents question it, and some are upset. I totally understand, but we also have to think about the program and the kids in the program and what’s best for them.”

“We need an equitable program for all students,” added board chair Rick McKamey, noting it is a “monumental task” to tackle. “The status quo is not working for a number of reasons … I don’t want to take dollars out of other classrooms just to make a duo track work.”

McKamey said while the program at CME is doing well, there are challenges between the two with resources and facilities.

He added there are three grade split classes at Mission Central.

A couple of parents from Mission Central agreed the facility at Christine Morrison is nicer and argued their school is at the bottom of a popularity contest. One mom said she was warned not to send her kids to Mission Central because of its poor reputation. She suggested rumours like those need to cease in order to give programs at Mission Central a chance to succeed.

Board members say the September start date is not a firm decision.

“A start date has to be on the table for discussion,” said secretary-treasurer Wayne Jefferson.

McKamey noted more information will be known after meetings begin next week to discuss the program.