SD54 hears request for immersion at SSS

Patrick Witwicki, executive director of AFFNO urged the board to consider offering a French immersion program at Smithers secondary school.

At their March 19 meeting, the School District 54 board heard a delegation from Patrick Witwicki, executive director of L’Association des Francophones et Francophiles du Nord-Ouest (AFFNO).

During his presentation, Witwicki urged the board to consider offering a French immersion program at Smithers secondary school.

According to Witwicki, the enrollment of students at Muheim elementary school’s French immersion program is the highest in the northwest on a per capita basis.

“That’s amazing,” Witwicki said of the statistic.

Projections for the 2013/2014 school year also bode well for the program with 190 students expected to enroll in the kindergarten – Grade 7 French immersion program.

“There is clearly a demand,” Witwicki said.

SD54 Superintendent, Chris van der Mark, said he was impressed with the presentation by Witwicki, but said any decision regarding a French immersion program at SSS is still a ways down the road.

“I though he gave us some good information,” van der Mark said.

“Now it’s going to go to the board and they’ll have a discussion as to what the pros and cons, if any and what such a program would look like and what the impact and pressures might be.”

The board of trustees also considered a hike in their rate of remuneration.

“They don’t get a lot,” van der Mark said of the trustees remuneration.

“We have a very keen sense of fiscal responsibility and that’s something they believe in.

“So what we saw is not only do they walk the walk, they talk the talk.

“I think we can all be very proud of the discussion and their resolve.

The trustees have not had an increase in pay since 2009.

The current increase, based on the consumer price index would have added about $90 to their paycheques.

“I don’t think any of us are here for the money,” Les Kearns, chair of the board, said.

“It doesn’t seem appropriate.”

The motion to increase trustee remuneration was defeated unanimously.