By Doug Hallett
After deciding to move some French immersion students from Victory school to King George school in 2014, the public school board proposes an even more drastic shift for immersion students at Paisley Road school.
As part of a boundary review for a new south end school on Zaduk Place, board staff have proposed two short-listed scenarios that would both shift all of Paisley Road’s FI students in Grades 4 to 6 to John McCrae school, as of September 2014.
The scenario that’s preferred by board staff would go further. It includes a boundary adjustment for Paisley that would also send FI students in junior kindergarten to Grade 3 who live east of Edinburgh Road to John McCrae instead of to Paisley.
The Upper Grand District School Board will hold a public information meeting on the issue at John McCrae school on Wednesday Jan. 16 from 7-9 p.m. Before that, a new staff report goes to a meeting of the board’s business operations committee at 7 p.m. today (Jan. 15) at its office on Victoria Road.
Last month, parents at Victory school were unsuccessful in getting school trustees to change their minds about sending Victory’s Grade 5 and 6 French immersion students to King George in 2014. That’s when King George becomes a JK-8 French immersion centre. How long FI students in Grade 4 can remain at Victory will be reviewed on a year-by-year basis, the board decided.
Victory and Paisley Road are JK-6 dual-track schools located west of the downtown core, teaching both French immersion and English students.
Regular English students weren’t affected by the board’s decision on Victory. The board also isn’t including them in the boundary review affecting Paisley.
The board is planning to build a new 449-pupil school on Zaduk Place as a JK-8 French immersion centre, with a target opening of September 2014.
Board staff are proposing that the new school’s boundary for JK-6 students would be bounded by Stone Road East, Gordon Street and Clair Road East. The boundary would include some rural areas east of Victoria Road South. Students graduating from F.A. Hamilton school, a JK-6 French immersion centre on Ironwood Road, would go to the new school for Grades 7 and 8, instead of going to John McCrae.
The report says that unless changes are made, enrolment at Paisley would hit about 600 students when full-day kindergarten comes to Paisley in September 2014.
The report says Paisley can’t handle this many students. It will have a capacity of 493 students inside the school building in 2014. But because of inefficiencies caused by teaching both French and English tracks, its “effective capacity” will be about 440 students in 2014, the report says.
“Although the school has three portables on site currently, the site is not ideal for accommodating additional portables due to grading and other sightline challenges,” it says.
Under one of the board’s shortlisted scenarios, Paisley would have 490 students in 2014, and this would drop to 475 by 2021. Under the other scenario preferred by board staff, the school would have 475 students in 2014, and this would drop to 415 students by 2021.
Under the preferred scenario, FI students in a “transition” area bounded by Edinburgh Road, London Road and the Speed River would have to go to John McCrae instead of Paisley Road if they are entering school for the first time in 2014. However, FI students from this area who are already attending Paisley Road would have the option in 2014 of attending either Paisley Road or John McCrae, as would their older siblings.
The report says the preferred scenario “creates rational geographic FI boundaries.”