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No room for consolidated French immersion program in west Guelph, says board report

More information required to determine need to consolidate French immersion program says school board committee
Upper Grand District School Board. GuelphToday file photo

School trustees are asking for more information to determine the need to consolidate a French immersion program in west Guelph. 

Last June, the board directed staff to undertake a study of the consolidation of a JK to Grade 8 French Immersion program in west Guelph schools which was presented in the business operations committee on Tuesday. 

After reviewing schools and ground capacities, board staff recommended that the board not proceed with a public review process to create a consolidated JK to Grade 8 French Immersion program in west Guelph due to a lack of sufficient capacity in existing schools 

“The projections are based on the long term accommodation plan. According to these projections, a consolidated JK, to Grade 8 for west Guelph could mean accommodating up to approximately 240 French immersion students in one school,” said Ruchika Angrish, manager of planning at the UGDSB.

“To accommodate approximately 240 Students for a consolidated JK to Grade 8 French Immersion program in the long term currently based on the current scenario, the capacity of the schools and the enrolment projections, there are no schools in west Guelph with enough surplus capacity.”

In the fall of 2018, Gateway Drive Public School began accommodating Junior Kindergarten and Senior Kindergarten classes and grew by a grade each year.

Currently, the enrolment cap for Junior Kindergarten is 29 students.And as of September, 2021. There are currently two open spaces in the program. In total, Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3 French enrolment at Gateway sits at 147 students.

Angrish said Willow Public School currently shows 262 spaces this year and these numbers  only reflect the current regular track program.

She said once Grade 4 and Grade 5 French Immersion students enter Willow Public school in 2022/2023, the capacity of the school reduces to only 53 spaces by 2027, which means that there's not enough capacity to include the remaining JK to Grade 3  students currently at Gateway.

Trustee Linda Busuttil said no decisions will be made until the end of the board meeting and that the report is missing information about enrolment by regular track and grade by grade retention.

“So what we're seeing is a snapshot, but not the trend here, I know the projections speak to that, but anything around student retention as we have in the long term accommodation plan year retention by year by year, if it can be included in that supplemental information as well.”

Trustee Mike Foley said the public needs to be given more information before a decision is made. 

“I think there's certainly room for improvement at some point in the near future,” said Foley. 


Anam Khan

About the Author: Anam Khan

Anam Khan is a journalist who covers numerous beats in Guelph and Wellington County that include politics, crime, features, environment and social justice
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