With the growth of French Immersion education in the Central Okanagan, the local board of education is making moves to expand the options for students moving from elementary school to middle school who plan to continue their studies in French.
Board chairwoman Moyra Baxter said after a lengthy process of consultation and planning, French Immersion students at Glenmore Elementary in Kelowna and at Lake Country’s Peter Greer elementary will transfer to a new Grade 7 French Immersion program that will start at Dr.Knox Middle School in Kelowna next September.
Currently, there is just one French Immersion middle school in the district, KLO, and only one high school offering French Immersion is KSS.
Baxter said a two years ago, the option of adding Glenrosa Middle on the Westside to the mix for French Immersion was proposed but it was not received well, in part because it is located in Glenrosa, at the far south end of the school district.
Baxter said the decision to add Dr. Knox as a second French Immersion middle school came after a comprehensive review of the program and will likely be the first of several changes aimed at bringing long-term stability to the French Immersion program throughout the school district.
While students from Glenmore and Peter Greer elementaries will go to Dr. Knox starting next year, students from the rest of the district will continue to go to KLO Middle.
In addition to the French Immersion change, the board also announced students currently registered in the Grade 6 English program at A.S. Matheson Elementary will move onto the Grade 7 English program at KLO Middle because it is located nearby and space would be freed up by having the Glenmore and Peter Greer French Immersion students go to Dr.Knox.
Eventually, the district wants to reconfigure it’s entire grade system to have middle schools start with Grade 6 because it feels that is more educationally sound. It will also help free up space at other elementary schools in the district.
A corresponding change at the high school level—moving Grade 9 to high schools—would also be made.
Currently, the only middle schools with Grades 6 to 8 in the district are Rutland and Springvalley Middle School.
The Central Okanagan is currently a growing school district and this year saw more than 500 students added to the more than 22,000 who already attend public schools here.
Much of that growth is at the elementary level, said Baxter, who was re-elected board chair at the last school board meeting.