New Brunswick: Low registration numbers leave immersion in limbo no matter what the minister decides

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Jul 1 16:22:56 UTC 2008

Uncertain future, regardlessPublished Tuesday July 1st, 2008

Low registration numbers leave immersion in limbo no matter what the
minister decides
A3By Shawn Merrithew

Regardless of the outcome of the Education Minister Kelly Lamrock's
final decision on early French immersion later this summer, the
program is in serious jeopardy in the region, says District 14
superintendent. Minister Lamrock is set to finalize his decision on
Aug. 5, concerning French Second Language in anglophone schools across
the province. Lamrock planned to eliminate early French immersion in
favour of an intensive core French program at Grade 5, beginning in
September 2008. Outraged, a group of parents challenged the minister's
decision in court, winning a small reprieve and forcing the minister
to seek more input on the matter.

Since then, Department of Education officials, in conjunction with
anglophone school districts, have hosted a series of public
information sessions to gather parents' concerns and feedback. In
District 14, the meetings saw low turnouts, explained superintendent
Lisa Gallagher, with only 21 in Florenceville last Wednesday evening
and 13 in Woodstock on Saturday afternoon.
Of the parents who did attend the meetings, Gallagher said, many of
them had children already enrolled in early immersion, and they want
the program to continue. But low registration numbers for September
could see early immersion dropped from Florenceville Elementary,
Southern Carleton Elementary and Woodstock Centennial Elementary
schools, she said.

"I have heard from a very small group of parents in the Bedell area
who are really concerned we only have eight students registered for
early immersion at Southern Carleton next year," Gallagher explained.
"That certainly is a concern because, if we don't have the numbers to
warrant offering the program, then we won't be able to offer it
regardless of the minister's decision on Aug. 5."

According to Policy 309 the French Second-Language policy, she
explained, the school can only establish an early immersion program so
long as the numbers warrant it. An early immersion class would need at
least 15 to 16 students to keep it running, she added. Gallagher
understands there are pockets of parents at all three schools who wish
to see the program continue, and she was hoping these meetings would
prove beneficial to increasing those numbers. "I was hoping today
(Saturday) I would hear from other parents who maybe are interested,"
she said. "This was sort of a last effort to give people the
opportunity to register for that program, under the understanding that
there is a possibility Minister Lamrock will allow it to go forward."

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