With only one French immersion middle school serving the Central Okanagan Regional District, school district officials are looking to establish a French immersion program at Glenrosa Middle School in West Kelowna to start the 2015 school session.
Based on projections by district staff, Ecole KLO Middle School, the district’s only French immersion middle school, does not have the capacity to absorb the number of students who are expected to enter the school from both English and French feeder schools this fall.
“The enrolment projections for Ecole KLO Middle School show that the proportion of French immersion students will continue to grow relative to the English program students,” wrote school district superintendent Hugh Gloster in a report that will be presented to the Central Okangan School Board at its regular meeting Wednesday night. “The district needs to take action to deal with the enrollment pressure at Ecole KLO Middle School. The development of a middle school French immersion program on the Westside would be one step in this process.”
Of the 837 students enrolled at KLO Middle School this year, 450 are French immersion students while 387 are in English classes. District projections show the expected number of French students to increase over the next seven years while English student populations are showing a downward trend.
Whichever language students are learning in, overall the school is over-capacity with no more room to grow. The report from Gloster says adding portables at KLO Middle is not an option and would only add more pressure to already over-subscribed common spaces such as the gym, library and washrooms.
District officials met with parents in the Glenrosa area in October of 2013 to outline the possibility of establishing a French immersion middle school program there. French immersion parents in the district were also surveyed about the situation in February of 2014, with 74 per cent of respondents supporting the Glenrosa French immersion plan.
The plan that school board trustees will be asked to adopt this year will include information on how the existing Grade 6 population at Ecole George Pringle Elementary in West Kelowna will be accommodated in September of 2015. That plan could see them stay at George Pringle for another year or start them at Glenrosa this fall.
The plan will also outline how a full French immersion program will be phased in at Glenrosa Middle in the future.
The school board will hear the report from the superintendent at its regular meeting tonight, will also debate the plan at a committee meeting on Feb. 4 before a final vote on the plan is held at its Feb. 11 meeting.
School board meetings are open to the public.