Ecole Dorothea Walker Elementary school in the Mission. (Contributed)

French Immersion student shift at Ecole KSS upsets parents

School district to get pushback on moving Okanagan Mission Secondary catchment area students out of KSS French Immersion cohort

The administrative headache of resolving an enrolment overcrowding issue for École Kelowna Secondary (KSS) this fall is not getting easier for the Central Okanagan Board of Education.

One of the proposals to relieve that pressure was to move French Immersion (FI) students from the Westside who currently attend KSS to a temporary FI program set at Mount Boucherie Secondary beginning in September 2022, with a permanent solution eyed once a second Westside secondary school is built.

That proposal was discussed by the planning and facilities committee meeting last week, with a final recommendation for the school board bumped back to June.

Another solution is to move FI students within the Okanagan Mission Secondary (OKM) catchment area to that school from KSS, but that now has drawn opposition from affected parents.

A presentation from École Dorothea Walker Elementary FI parents, representing 178 FI students, is on the agenda for Wednesday’s school board meeting, accompanied by a petition signed by 125 students at École KLO Middle School.

READ MORE: KSS looking to relocate French Immersion students

READ MORE: School board commits to French Immersion for Lake Country

Jennifer Huber, a parent of three FI students at Dorothea Walker school and who will speak at the school board meeting, said she and other parents were caught off-guard by the finality of the FI program shift occurring for the 2021-22 school year.

Huber said a school district survey gauging parent support for a potential FI program at OKM Secondary in late November received a widespread positive response.

“Sure, I said yes to that. We all would love to see an FI program in our catchment area but we answer that question without knowing the details of what that might mean,” Huber said.

She said moving some of the students out of the KSS FI cohort, which numbers about 415 students in total from various feeder schools, to be isolated at OKM, an English program school, without the same library, course options or teaching resources, or the ability to associate daily with other FI students sharing a similar school education experience, would solicit a very different answer.

“We want to avoid the social-emotional impact of tearing kids away from their existing FI cohort,” she said.

Emerson Novakoski, the Grade 9 student at École KLO Middle School who started the petition last week, echoed Huber’s sentiments about the negative impact on FI students who would be relocated to OKM’s unfamiliar surroundings.

“This is a really important lesson for us as students to fight for this because it has brought us all together as (FI) students in a way that shows we have a voice and a say in this,” said Novakoski, saying the critical thinking message taught in the school system, “tells us if we believe in something then we should voice our opinion and have our voice heard.”

Novakoski said the most difficult aspect for FI students moved from KSS to OKM would be the self-support loss among their peer group.

For FI students, Novakoski says the challenges of learning are unique to them compared to English program students, and as such, they often rely on each other during hard and confusing times where their parents can’t always help.

“We have group chats and text each other. We won’t have those same supports if we are split up from our friends and other students to help us when we need it,” she said.

Huber said her group has difficulty understanding why the OKM option is considered when KSS student spaces are filled by international students and others from outside the KSS catchment area.

But in light of KSS’s enrolment issues, Huber said her presentation will suggest an option that sees south Kelowna students currently enrolled in the KLO-KSS school regiment be shifted to a Canyon Falls-OKM pathway, rather than disrupting the existing KSS FI program.

Huber said she understands such a move would likely upset other parents because of busing and geographic issues of being closer to KSS than OKM, but she feels overall that option is “the most logical, fiscally responsible and least disruptive for social-emotional impact on students.”

Wednesday’s school board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. with participation access provided via Zoom.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelowna Fire Department. (FILE)
Early morning downtown Kelowna dumpster fire deemed suspicious

RCMP and the Kelowna Fire Department will conduct investigations into the cause of the blaze

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

(Hal Brindley - Dreamstime)
Enderby farmers caught between coyotes and bylaw tickets

The Smith family is stuck in a Catch-22 between protecting their livestock and incurring noise complaints

A COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Black Mountain Elementary in Kelowna Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Google Image)
Another COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Kelowna school

Interior Health confirmed an exposure at Black Mountain Elementary School Saturday

Members of BCEHS Station 343 in Lake Country receive a donation of treats and wine from the community in December. (Contributed)
‘Unexpected and heartwarming’: Okanagan community supports paramedics

Cards, discounts, treats, more given to Lake Country paramedics in sign of support

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Auldin Maxwell stacks the 693rd block on the top of record-breaking Jenga tower on Nov. 29. (Submitted)
Salmon Arm boy rests world-record attempt on single Jenga brick

Auldin Maxwell, 12, is now officially a Guinness world record holder.

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Most Read