French students in Cape St. George may move to English school

Costly repairs of the francophone school in Cape St. George may lead to french students moving to the English school across the street.

Notre-Dame-du-Cap has 37 students, and needs costly repairs

Around 60 people attended a meeting Nov. 1 to discuss the future of the French school in Cape St. George, a small town located on the tip of the Port au Port peninsula. (Ici Radio-Canada)

Newfoundland and Labrador's French school board is considering how to best deal with costly repairs at the francophone school in Cape St. George, and one of the options is a move to the English school across the street.

There is a lack of space at Notre-Dame-du-Cap — which has 37 students from kindergarten to grade 8 — and the floor of the gymnasium needs to be repaired.  

The addition of a portable classroom, which the school has requested, and repairs to the gym are expected to cost over $500,000.  

So, the board brought forward an option which had been discussed in the past — moving the students to the English school, Our Lady of the Cape, which is directly across the street.  

Our Lady of the Cape school has 52 students from kindergarten to grade 8. (Facebook)

"It's not an option that has been agreed upon, it's just an idea," said Kim Christianson, director of education with the Conseil scolaire francophone provincial de Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador.

The board met with the school council, staff and parents of both schools on Nov. 1, and Christianson said there was a mix of emotions and suggestions about how the board should proceed.  

Don't want to lose identity

Christianson said while it would be cheaper to operate one building, there are concerns about how a move would impact students. 

"Not everybody speaks French, so when the children or staff meet with anglophone students or staff, the conversation starts in English ... so that is the biggest concern I believe," she told CBC Radio's West Coast Morning.

Other suggestions at the Nov. 1 meeting ranged from sharing the gymnasium only at Our Lady of the Cape to trying to get financing for a brand new French school. 

There will be another meeting of the French board on Nov. 18 to discuss the possibilities, and Christianson said if combining schools is the preferred option, it could happen in time for the start of classes in Sept. 2018.

With files from West Coast Morning