Today, Jan. 20, the B.C. Ministry of Education (MOE) announced plans to invest in a permanent school for French-speaking students in Penticton.
Since 2017 the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Columbie-Britannique (CSF) has operated École Entre-lacs, a K-12 francophone school, on a short-term lease from the Okanagan-Skaha School Disrrict (SD67).
Now, francophone families in Penticton can be certain that École Entre-lacs is here to stay according to the ministry. Now, thanks to $11.5-million in funding, CSF owns and operates the school independently.
Part of the funding also aims to provide SD67’s board of education with funds that can be used to advance its capital priorities, such as expansions or renovations.
“In a country with two official languages, it’s vital that francophone students have the same opportunities as their anglophone peers,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education in a news release. “That’s why we are investing in a permanent school for French-speaking students in Penticton and working to find similar opportunities in other parts of the province.”
CSF Board of Trustees president Marie-Pierre Lavoie said this initiative will further the CSF’s mission, and provide greater access to francophone education in British Columbia.
“We are happy to see that our collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Okanagan-Skaha School District on this file has allowed us to acquire a school for the Penticton francophone community,” she said in the release.
The ministry stated that École Entre-lacs has enough space for all of the francophone students in Penticton, with room to accommodate expected growth.
In addition to several standard and specialty classrooms, a gymnasium and a library, the school also offers child care.
The ministry added CSF students attending the francophone program at Penticton Secondary will not be affected, however a secondary program is expected to be phased in at École Entre-lacs.
The recent property sale includes the former Nkwala Middle School facility, closed since 2016 due to declining enrolment.
MOE, the CSF and the City of Penticton will now work together to decide the future of this site so it can be of better use to the community.
The ministry added it will continue to work with the CSF to fund and acquire school sites for francophone students in other communities throughout B.C.
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