Report to Board of Trustees | December 6 News Release
Scroll down for Questions and Answers
The Board of Trustees for the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB) recently passed a motion to eliminate Junior Kindergarten entry when and where necessary at French Immersion elementary schools at capacity effective September 2018.
A shortage of qualified French-speaking teachers in the LDCSB, and in school boards across the province, has placed severe strain on the LDCSB French Immersion program with regards to staffing capacity.
In addition, three of the four schools LDCSB French Immersion schools are operating above physical capacity.
As a result, the decision was made that the French Immersion program will begin with Senior Kindergarten in all four LDCSB French Immersion schools as of September 2018.
French Immersion is an optional program in the LDCSB. While other school boards are considering phasing out French Immersion altogether, the LDCSB remains committed to quality, Catholic French programming for students who choose to enroll in the French Immersion program.
This decision will impact families in different ways. Some families will see no impact at all as their children are currently in Junior Kindergarten or above. Other families, those with children currently in French Immersion and have younger children approaching school-age, will experience some challenges.
Various proposals were considered in order to address both the staffing and the facility challenges. One challenge cannot be dealt without acknowledging the other. In addition, the challenges must be dealt with on a board-wide level, not on a school-by-school basis. The proposals are included in the Board Report.
A number of questions and concerns have been brought forward since the announcement. These questions and their respective answers, are below.
Quality, Catholic French programming is a priority for our French Immersion schools. The LDCSB will continue to offer this optional program to students beginning with Senior Kindergarten starting in September 2018.
Questions & Answers Why weren’t parents informed or consulted before the Board made a decision?
The physical capacities for three of the French Immersion schools are well-known. The staffing capacity for the board as a whole rose to the forefront this year and the Board was forced to make a decision before registration began. Various options were considered (see the Board Report) and impacting the fewest number of families and students is always a priority when faced with difficult decisions. Can the families already at French Immersion schools be grandfathered into a special Junior Kindergarten class? By not providing this option, families may pull out their families.
No. However, families with students already in the French Immersion program will have first priority (within an identified timeframe) when the time comes to register their child for SK or Grade 1. Have you looked at how this will impact the future enrolment at a smaller school?
Census information is used to make certain predications for the future. Enrollment projections are never an exact science, although enrollment increased this year and should gradually increase in coming years. The LDCSB had a surprisingly large influx of new students whose families moved to the area from other regions outside the LDCSB. Can Junior Kindergarten in English be offered at the French Immersion Schools?
No. The boundaries for a neighborhood English school encompass a relatively small geographic area. The boundaries for the French Immersion program schools are much greater, in some cases encompassing an entire county. We have a child currently in French Immersion and another about to enter Junior Kindergarten. How do we get two children to two different schools at the same time?
The LDCSB recognizes the decision may cause challenges for some families. French Immersion is still an optional program and parents who choose to continue to exercise this option are encouraged to work with both schools. Distance is an issue. Can I register my JK child at an English school near the French Immersion School, rather than my neighborhood school?
Possibly, although bus transportation would not be provided. Families may apply for a boundary exemption through the normal process. If a school is not at capacity, they may accept out of boundary students. Families must provide their own transportation to and from the school. This decision places a potential financial burden on families who have to choose between another year of daycare or deal with multiple school drop-offs/pick-ups.
Unlike other school boards in the province who are delaying French Immersion to later years (Grade 4) or phasing them out completely, the LDCSB is committed to enrolling students as early as possible with qualified French teachers leading the program and the facilities to accommodate it. If the Kindergarten Program is designed to be a 2-year program with both years being split grades, how will this affect the quality of the program with just a straight SK year?
The Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) program takes place over a two-year period and continues to be optional, as per the Ministry of Education. Students are required to attend school beginning with Grade 1.