Early French immersion class planned

A new early French immersion program in the Okanagan Skaha School District would likely begin with one class in Summerland.

A new early French immersion program in the Okanagan Skaha School District would likely begin with one class in Summerland and two classes in Penticton.

The program is currently in the study phase and wouldn’t begin until 2014 if approved later this spring by the board of the Okanagan Skaha School District. It would start children in kindergarten and Grade 1 and complement the existing late French immersion classes that begin in Grade 6.

Assistant superintendent Dave Burgoyne is leading the study and told the school district board’s education committee on Jan. 29 that based on parent surveys, he expects 18 to 20 would enrol in Summerland and 45 to 50 in Penticton.

The space options for Summerland are Giant’s Head and Trout Creek Elementary Schools, while Carmi and Wiltse Elementary Schools are the possibilities for Penticton.

He cautioned that the projections are for information only and will form part of the feasibility study presented to trustees in May for a decision.

The school board also learned at its regular meeting Feb. 4 that administrators are prepared to run three Grade 6 classes in late French immersion in Penticton next year, based on 96 student applications received, and just a single class in Summerland based on 43 applications there.

Trustee Linda Van Alphen of Summerland asked if administrators would consider adding another class in Summerland, but superintendent Wendy Hyer said the proposed arrangement makes the best use of available resources.

Hyer added that everyone on last year’s Summerland wait list eventually made it into the program.