French Immersion options to be voted on tonight

The Coast Mountains 82 School District board will vote on six options presented by the superintendent

The Coast Mountains 82 School Board has been presented with six options for the future of the French Immersion program in Terrace, Kitimat, and Hazelton, and will be voting on them tonight at the regular school board meeting in Terrace. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. at the Board of Education office.

A report detailing the options, along with recommendations from school district officials and feed back from community groups, looks at the work done by committees established to determine the cost-effectiveness and best practices for maintaining a french immersion program in the school district.

The first option presented is to maintain the status quo, and offer the program from Kindergarten to grade 12 in all three communities. This option would allow all students to graduate within the Dual Dogwood Certificate Program, essentially a bilingual diploma. According to the report, this option is not financially viable or sustainable for the school district.

The report includes an estimated cost for the 2017-2018 school year for the program at $90,375, due to low enrolment and required staffing needed to facilitate the program.

The second option presented is to offer the program from Kindergarten to grade 6 in Kitimat and Terrace, and Kindergarten to grade 7 in Hazleton. The Dogwood certificate program would be phased out over two years so that students currently enrolled will be able to complete it. Students entering in grades 7, 8, and 9 would be streamed into the English program in all three communities. The report does not include any cost estimates, but does state that enrolment may drop if students can no longer qualify for a bilingual diploma.

There are currently 21 students in Terrace, 13 in Kitimat, and one in Hazelton who are expected to move to grades 11 and 12 in the french immersion program next year, according to the report.

Option three would be to offer the program from Kindergarten to grade 9 in Terrace and Kitimat, and Kindergarten to grade 7 in Hazelton. This option would again phase out the Dogwood program in all three communities. Students wishing to take the Dipl├┤me de fin d’├ętudes secondaires (DELF), another type of bilingual diploma, would be facilitated, with Hazelton students provided the opportunity to enroll in the Terrace or Kitimat program to complete their french immersion to grade 9 by staying with a family or host families in the areas. The estimated cost for this option is $18,000.

Option four would offer the program from Kindergarten to grade 12 in Terrace, Kindergarten to grade 9 in Kitimat, and Kindergarten to grade 7 in Hazelton.

“Kitimat students entering grades 10 to 12 and Hazelton students entering grades 8 to 12 could be streamed into an “intensive” Core French Course,” says the report. Students wishing to take the DELF could partner with a DELF evaluator and/or students from that community could be provided the opportunity to enroll in the Terrace program and stay with host families. This option has a cost estimate of $33,278 for the 2017-2018 school year based on student projections.

The fifth option would see the program offered in Terrace and Kitimat from Kindergarten to grade 12, and Kindergarten to grade 7 in Hazelton. Hazelton students would again be offered the opportunity to pursue the DELF through an evaluator, or board with host families in Kitimat or Terrace for the Dogwood certificate. That option has an estimated cost of $63,371 for the 2017-2018 school year.

The final option proposes class size minimums of 18 students of combined grades from grades 10 to 12 in Terrace and Kitimat, and 15 students in Hazelton for grades 8 to 12. Local Distance Learning Courses would be developed for grades 10 to 12 for students in areas where minimum class sizes could not be met.

The report states that this option was fully researched, but “due to the high cost versus the low benefit to students, it was agreed that tis option was deemed unfeasible.”

The school district recommended options four and three for the board to make a decision on.

enrolment in the french immersion program in the school district has varied from town to tow, but has seen a slow increase in total school district enrolment over the last 10 years. French immersion students now make up 10.3 per cent of the total enrolment.