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Dual-track off the rails

The idea of a dual-track school where you can send your kids whether or not they go into French immersion seems to be reaching the end of the line in Guelph.
After years of converting dual-track schools (and, in the case of F. A. Hamilton, an English school) into French immersion centres, the Upper Grand school board is in the process of shifting FI kids out of its last two dual-track schools in Guelph – Victory and Paisley Road. Last month, the board decided to shift Grade 5 and 6 FI kids out of Victory to King George, with Grade 4 FI kids left at Victory on a year-by-year basis. Now the board is proposing not only to shift Paisley’s Grade 4-6 FI kids to John McCrae, but also to shift all of its FI kids living east of Edinburgh Road to McCrae.
You have to wonder whether the school board has quietly written off the concept of dual-track schools – the way it wrote off the idea of schools for Grades 7 and 8, getting rid of Guelph’s three intermediate schools. Part of its rationale for doing so is hinted at in a report to be discussed at a Jan. 16 public meeting: it says inefficiencies in use of classroom space that comes with teaching both English and French immersion tracks in the same school reduces Paisley’s “effective capacity.”
Students in the English track aren’t directly affected by the upcoming FI changes at Victory and at Paisley. But the English students in the upper grades at a dual-track JK-6 school are affected by having so few kids their age left, once their FI peers are shifted elsewhere.
You can’t help but feel for parents at Victory and now at Paisley. The school model they embraced is crumbling.

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