By Doug Hallett
Public school board staff are recommending that a new school to be built within two years on a site near Kortright Road East take only French immersion students.
The proposed junior kindergarten to Grade 8 school on Zaduk Place would be the south end’s third French immersion centre, says a staff report that goes to a meeting of the school board’s business operations committee tonight (Sept. 11).
The report says the new school could set the stage for relieving enrolment pressures at the west end’s Paisley Road school by reassigning some of its students to John McCrae School, a JK-8 French immersion centre on Water Street.
John McCrae’s own enrolment pressures could be lessened by reassigning some of its JK-8 students living in the far south of the city to the new school on Zaduk Place, the report says.
The school board, which has already got Ministry of Education to build a school on Zaduk Place, is trying to speed up the building process to get it built quickly so that it can open in September 2014. That’s when the phasing-in of full-day kindergarten across Ontario is to be completed.
“The introduction of full-day kindergarten, combined with increasing participation rates in French immersion, has compounded the need for additional FI spaces in South Guelph,” the report says.The Upper Grand District School Board has been moving increasingly in recent years towards more French immersion centres and fewer dual-track schools, which take both FI students and students in the regular English track. John McCrae and Edward Johnson schools have both been turned from dual-track schools into FI centres, and the south end’s F. A. Hamilton school was converted last year from an English school to a JK-6 French immersion centre.
As well, the board is planning to turn the new King George school, which opened this month, into a JK-8 French immersion centre in September 2014. That’s to happen after it is used for its first two years as a “holding school” with both FI and English students.
In the spring, the board launched a boundary review for King George as an FI centre. As well as shifting Grade 7 and 8 French immersion students living north of the river to King George from John McCrae, the board is looking at shifting some French immersion students from Victory school to King George in September 2014.
Victory, a JK-6 dual-track school next to Exhibition Park that has a capacity of 294 students and very little room for portables, is facing growing enrolment pressures.
A staff report in June said King George could relieve Victory’s enrolment problems, but couldn’t also solve the growing enrolment pressures of Paisley Road school, another JK-6 dual-track school in the board’s West Guelph district.
The new report – which is the first boundary review report for the 449-pupil Zaduk Place school – says this review will be affected by the results of the King George boundary review.
Paisley Road school is expected to be about 130 students over capacity in September 2014 as a result of the implementation of full-day kindergarten. Its site isn’t amenable to taking more than the three portables being used during the current school year, the report says.
Although Paisley Road is a dual-track school, “the enrolment pressure projected is primarily as a result of the growth in French immersion,” it says.
To alleviate this, staff are suggesting that John McCrae take some of Paisley Road’s students in September 2014.
The new school on Zaduk Place would relieve enrolment pressure not only on John McCrae, but also on F.A. Hamilton, the report says.
A public information meeting is being planned for Jan. 17, after the second boundary report for the Zaduk Place school is made public. That January report is to present a preferred alternative for the new school’s boundary.
Plans call for the school board to make a final decision on the Zaduk Place school’s boundary next March.