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Jammed schools require shuffle

French immersion bursting in Louis Riel

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Get ready for some serious school shuffling in south St. Vital -- with not much time to do it.

The French immersion programs at âcole Julie-Riel and âcole St. Germain are way beyond the schools' capacities, there's no more room for portables, and the schools project an additional 74 kids next September.

So what to do?

Louis Riel School Division superintendent Duane Brothers said recently there are at least five possible scenarios, and likely more coming from a series of public consultations during the next three weeks.

"It makes sense to have a decision made by December, or January at the latest," Brothers said.

"We do not have a favourite solution," Brothers said.

More portables at any school would not be a good idea, but can't be ruled out, he said. Many of the solutions would involve an English-track school, currently well below capacity, becoming a French immersion school next fall.

That would involve English-track students moving, some of them likely having to take the bus.

Creating a dual-track school in an English school is possible, though, "Louis Riel has a strong history of single-track schools."

In the mix for possible changes are Dr. D.W.L. Penner, George McDowell, H.S. Paul, Highbury, Samuel Burland, and Victor H.L. Wyatt schools, which collectively have about 850 empty seats.

There's even the possibility of sweeping changes, said Brothers: converting all or some of the kindergarten to Grade 8 schools to either K-4 or 5-8.

Details on the public meetings can be found at http://www.lrsd.net/N1/1200.asp.

Meanwhile, the school board is hosting a public forum Oct. 17 on plans for programs and facilities in the new Sage Creek school scheduled to open in 2016. That's at 6:30 p.m. at 900 St. Mary's Rd.

A survey showed 60 per cent of Sage Creek residents want English track and 40 per cent French immersion, so a dual track school is likely, Brothers said.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 A12

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