After months of consultations, brainstorming, number-crunching and soul-searching, numerous members of the Louis Riel School Division community are now dealing with the implications of a restructured future.
Based on projected enrolment information, and significant overcrowding and unsustainable growth at two of south St. Vital’s French immersion schools, École Julie-Riel and École St. Germain, division administrators presented the school board with a series of recommendations to tackle the situation and provide long-term solutions at a board meeting on Jan. 7.
The outcome will see the English program George McDowell School reconfigured as a Grades 6 to 8 single-track French immersion middle years school, and École Julie-Riel and École St. Germain reconfigured as Grades K to 5 early years single-track French immersion schools.
Both schools are currently K to 8. The changes are set to take effect on Sept. 2.
Officials say the parents of students currently attending George McDowell School will have options for their children to attend one of a number of neighbouring schools — Dr. D. W. Penner School, H. S. Paul School and Highbury School — where enrolments have been declining, as well as possibly Samuel Burland School.
LRSD’s superintendent, Duane Brothers, said the reorganization will address the overpopulation of École Julie-Riel and École St. Germain, as well as increase French immersion capacity in the division from 970 to 1,500 students, making room for the projected 1,340 children who will enrol in French immersion in the next few years.
At the recent board meeting, several parents voiced their concerns about the effects the changes will have on their kids, their schools and their communities. Concerns range from daycare availability to transportation costs, and it’s clear that the next few months will be a massive adjustment for many individuals as the division begins to implement the changes.
On Jan. 8, the division started its transition plan, as administration met with staff at two of the affected schools to begin the debriefing process, and started sending letters to parents in all eight south St. Vital schools, including Victor H. L. Wyatt School, which was also part of the decision-making process.
Information will be updated regularly on the division’s website, officials say. For more information, visit www.lrsd.net
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