Ridge, Pitt parents lobby for late immersion

Local school district could be only one in region without late entry.

A group of parents is lobbying the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board to keep late French immersion in the district.

If the program is cancelled, School District No. 42 will be the only one in the Metro region not to offer late French immersion – a program which allows students to start studying in both of Canada’s official languages in Grade 5.

Owen Smith and Vanessa Park, representing a group of 19 parents who want to see the program continue, argued that late French Immersion has not received adequate support from the board.

Smith noted that in spring 2014, the program was cancelled due to lack of enrolment, the board saying it would return in 2015-2016, if there were enough students.

He asked that the board allow the program to run in 2015-2016 if it has 20 or more students – saying the program needs a rebuilding phase.

“The program needs to be nurtured and allowed to rebuild,” said Park.

She added that the program should be targeted to Grade 5 parents, and noted that the information link on the board’s website was not working.

“To parents accessing the site, it looked like the program had been completely cancelled,” she said.

She thinks the program has been affected by a lack of information.

She noted that even New Westminster, with less than half the district enrolment as Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, has a French immersion program, and Greater Victoria has five.

They also questioned whether the program should be offered at Golden Ears elementary, suggesting a more central school could attract more students. They also argued it should be part of a French immersion school, so teachers are not isolated.

And they brought video presentations from students, saying that the program is important to them, and allowed them to become fully bilingual.

Board chair Mike Murray apologized for the website errors and said they wold be corrected.


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