Relocating French immersion, ESL won’t spare Yarrow boundary change

Moving French immersion and ESL students to Mt. Slesse middle school instead of Yarrow students is not a feasible option, said school district officials.

Moving French immersion and ESL students to Mt. Slesse middle school instead of Yarrow students is not a feasible option, said school district officials.

An email was sent to the district and local media earlier this week from a Yarrow parent suggesting the district reroute French immersion or English as a second language students to boost enrollment at Mt. Slesse middle school instead of the Yarrow kids.

“The majority of ESL kids are already bussed in from out of catchment, why not move the entire program to [Mt. Slesse middle school]?” asked Colleen, who did not provide her last name in the email. “This would keep Yarrow kids in VMS and solve MSMS’s low population.

“Why wasn’t this option presented or considered?”

Superintendent Corinne McCabe told the Progress that it was looked at, but it wasn’t the best option.

There are 178 students currently enrolled in French immersion at Vedder middle, which is the only French immersion program offered on the south side for middle school students.

“It’s too big a group to move,” said McCabe.

Mt. Slesse’s enrollment currently sits at 501 students and has a capacity for 650; 178 extra students would put the school over capacity. It would also drop Vedder’s enrollment down to 470, putting the school district in the same situation it’s currently in with Mt. Slesse.

As well, with the ESL students there are only 29 students spread over three grades, and approximately 10 incoming students for Grade 7 next year.

“It’s not enough to make a difference,” said McCabe.

“We don’t want to move students who have already started their middle school career. It doesn’t make sense to move kids that are already well into their program at a school when you can move kids who haven’t started there yet.”

Chilliwack board of education will be voting on the proposed boundary change, which will send Yarrow students to Mt. Slesse middle instead of Vedder middle starting next year, at the next board meeting on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.

kbartel@theprogress.com