Winnipeg School Division adds Ojibway, Cree, Spanish, French programs

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Winnipeg School Division trustees have approved sweeping changes to language programs — creating Ojibwa, Cree and Spanish programs for next fall, and adding another French bilingual school.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/12/2015 (2552 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg School Division trustees have approved sweeping changes to language programs — creating Ojibwa, Cree and Spanish programs for next fall, and adding another French bilingual school.

The board announced the new programs late Monday night after trustees hammered out their decision behind closed doors.

Indigenous Cree and Ojibwa bilingual language programs will be established at Isaac Brock School on Barratt Avenue, a Spanish bilingual language program will be established at Earl Grey School on Cockburn Street and an additional French immersion dual-track language program will be established at Luxton School on Polson Avenue.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg School Division Trustee Sherri Rollins (centre)

“We are beyond thrilled with their decision,” Kathy Heppner, an Earl Grey parent leading the campaign for Spanish bilingual, said Tuesday.

The division will contact parents who’ve expressed interest in any of the new programs already and will be advertising the new programs, an official said.

The board chose the schools because of available space.

Indigenous language programs are a high priority identified by the board, while parents advocating for Spanish have been lobbying for years.

“All school communities that are affected were consulted and were in agreement to house the programs,” board chairman Mark Wasyliw said. “The parent group that is seeking a Spanish language program is chaired by a parent with children at Earl Grey.”

Parents must indicate by Jan. 31 they will register their kids in each of the programs for the division to have sufficient numbers to proceed.

“Trustees recognize the importance in today’s global economy of providing WSD students with opportunities to learn a second language,” said trustee Sherri Rollins, a member of the WSD advisory council of indigenous education.

“We’re excited to be the first division in Winnipeg to offer bilingual language programs in indigenous Cree and Ojibwa, as well as Spanish.”

Seven Oaks S.D. recently said it would survey parents about indigenous language programs.

A division official said there could be additional transportation costs, depending on the location of children whose parents register them for the programs.

The WSD will not know until later in the spring whether any of the programs will have room to take schools-of-choice students from other school divisions.

The level of community interest for indigenous Cree and Ojibwa suggests multiple kindergarten classes will be required, the division said.

Rob Riel, director of aboriginal education and newcomer services, said preschool programs in these languages will be the main source of registration.

“We’ve had discussions with five organizations that offer Cree and/or Ojibwa Head Start programs for preschool children,” said Riel. “Based on those discussions, we expect to fill two kindergarten classrooms of each language, Cree and Ojibwa, in the fall of 2016 with one grade being added per year.”

Riel said Isaac Brock School has the space to house the language programs and is also in a well-placed central location in the division.

The division will soon begin an advertising awareness campaign and open registration for kindergarten students for the new language programs. A minimum of 23 students is required to register for each language program by no later than next month.

Registration will drive a number of next steps, including hiring teachers and approval of curriculum by Manitoba Education. If all requirements are met, the division said, the programs will begin next September.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Tuesday, December 8, 2015 10:24 PM CST: writethrough

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