Parents at last month's Terrace meeting packed the school board office.

Parents at last month's Terrace meeting packed the school board office.

Coast Mountains French Immersion decision delayed

Hazelton parents and students will have to wait another month for a decision on the future of French Immersion.

  • Feb. 22, 2017 5:00 a.m.

By Jackie Lieuwen

The Coast Mountains School District has delayed its decision about how to continue its French Immersion program, citing the need for more time to analyze information and frame options for a plan.

Originally, the options were set to be presented to the board for decision tonight, Feb. 22, at its meeting in Hazelton, but parents and others were informed via email last week that it would be delayed a month.

“Due to the amount of feedback received, and the additional time required by staff to compile the report …[the report will be presented March 29],” read the email from the school district to parents.

That’s when the board meets next at the its Terrace office.

At last January’s meeting, the school district’s second French Immersion advisory committee recommended a class size minimum and distance learning for high school French Immersion — both ideas adamantly opposed by parents.

This committee also recommended an ongoing French Immersion advisory committee be established and a questionnaire be given to families of students who leave the program in order for further research.

“We will have district staff do a comprehensive report that will look at a variety of options,” said superintendent Katherine McIntosh at their January 2017 meeting. “Then we will also look at the educational pros and cons for those options and the financial aspect.”

The January meeting was packed with close to 70 parents from Terrace, Hazelton and Kitimat, showing support for the program and emphasizing their desire to work with the district to make the program sustainable. Parents lobbied for more time to research and provide feedback for the decision, but school trustees said the topic had been discussed for a long time and well-researched by committees over the last two years.

The board gave parents until Feb. 10, two weeks, to submit any ideas and suggestions.

There are 432 students in French Immersion this year, about 10 per cent of the school district population.

While there are between 30 and 60 students in French Immersion from Kindergarten to Grade 7, the high school program (Grade 8 and up) has nine students in Hazelton, 28 in Kitimat, and 55 in Terrace.