The London District Catholic School will eliminate junior kindergarten at its overcrowded French Immersion schools beginning next fall.

The board says all four of its French immersion schools are currently operating above their physical capacity.

The board decision earlier this week means that parents of children entering junior kindergarten must register at their home school, then enroll in a French immersion program for senior kindergarten.

Vince Romeo, superintendent of education for the board, acknowledged on CBC's London Morning Thursday that parents are disappointed.

Vince Romeo

Vince Romeo is the superintendent of Education

"We know, especially with families that have multiple students that may be in school, that asking some to remain in the French immersion school and some to enrol in their neighbourhood school would pose an inconvenience. So we understand that part of the concern," said Romeo.

He said the decision is largely the result of a shortage of qualified French teachers.

"We want high standard, we want qualified staff, and we want that delivered on a consistent basis."

Romeo said the board has intensified its search efforts in the last year and a half, including working with faculties of education whose students are still engaged in studies.

The superintendent said the board is also considering venturing into Quebec to look for French teachers. "I think that is a reality we're facing and going outside of the province is definitely an option."

Asked why French immersion programs are so popular, Romeo said a survey by the board earlier this year revealed that parents and students believed French would enhance employment opportunities.

Romeo said the London District Catholic board believes if it can address the staffing and capacity constraints, its French immersion program will continue to flourish.

He said the board "would definitely entertain"  the possibility of reinstating JK in French immersion if can obtain more space and hire sufficient numbers of teachers.