September 14, 2015 8:55 pm
Updated: September 15, 2015 12:49 am

French Immersion classes nearly chock full in Central Okanagan

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KELOWNA — It’s a problem of supply and demand for the Central Okanagan School District (SD 23) and at the start of the 2015/16 school year, there is far more demand for French Immersion seats.

The popularity of French Immersion has been on the rise for the past decade, with a more than 43 per cent jump in students in the last 10 years.

It means not all students are getting spots. In SD 23, children can only enroll in French Immersion in kindergarten or Grade 1 and those seats fill up fast.

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“Usually our classes are full a minute after registration is open and it’s on computers so it’s timed,” says Glenmore elementary school vice-principal, Tamalee Middleton, “and within a minute we’re full.”

The school district has six dual (both English and French) elementary schools but only one middle school.

“They all feed into KLO and that school is oversubscribed now, so it’s causing us a real challenge,” says SD 23 superintendent Hugh Gloster.

“People arriving from now on trying to get into French Immersion may be travelling in order to get a spot at an elementary school and for middle school may be on a wait-list for particular grade.”

The district is looking combat that challenge with a new task force comprised of school staff, parents of both English and French students and trustees. They are all gathering together, brain storming what the best solution may be.

Potential changes could include opening up another one or more middle schools to French students, streamlining KLO to be only French or adding later entry French, not only kindergarten and Grade 1, which is the way the system is now.

At this point, those are just ideas and Gloster says there will likely be many more presented by the task force. The group must submit its proposals by October 7.

The goal is to have the new strategy, whatever it turns out to be, implemented by September 2017.

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