Parents to Have Input on Future of Early French Immersion Program

By: Laura Steiner

The Halton District Catholic School Board (HDCSB) is looking at the future of its early French Immersion (EFI) program.   The decision has caused some worry amongst parents.  One Oakville mom, Gillian Kantor started an online petition which, has so far gathered 338 signatures. Kantor is one of six delegations scheduled to speak at a December 6, board meeting.

There are four schools that offer the program in Halton.  St. Benedict (Milton), Sacred Heart of Jesus (Burlington), St. Brigid (Halton Hills) and St. Mary (Oakville).  Spots for the program are limited.  According to the 2012-2013 statistics  101 students were on a waiting list in Milton.  They need to add four additional classes in order to keep up with demand.

The argument for cancellation is based on a lack of qualified teachers.  A higher level of French is needed for subjects  such as science, and civics.

In a written submission she turns the issue staffing issue into a question for the board itself.  “Let’s ask the advisory committees: What are ways the Board can improve its recruitment strategies? She also  suggests an idea of creating a pool of French-speaking volunteers to help out English-speaking supply teacher is available.

The other  problem faced by the board is equity.  Spots in EFI are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.  When one opens up, a lottery is used to decide who gets it.   Kantor asks parents “What is your opinion of the first-come, first-served computer system? What are your recommendations to fix it?  EFI has a

Other parents share her concerns on inequity.  Kelly Stahl of Milton, signed the petition and worries about her children not being offered the same chances.  “I worry about keeping my grade 1 EFI daughter as the last cohort in an undesirable program, and am frustrated by the inequity this will cause in my own home when one child isn’t offered the same opportunities as the other.  It seems incredibly backwards to cancel a program that has seen nothing but increased demand for participation.  There needs to be bigger thinking for a long term solution.”

The final vote will take place on December 20, 2016.

Milton HDCSB Trustee Diane Rabenda was contacted for input on this story.  She has chosen to reserve comment until after  the final vote.

For more information on the issue click here