Ottawa

OCDSB overturns earlier decision, will consider French immersion changes for 2016

One week after an Ottawa Carleton District School Board committee recommended a delay on sweeping changes to French immersion until 2017, the board has voted to consider the changes for September 2016 after all.

Expanding French immersion could generate $2.7 million in savings, staff report says

The total hours of French immersion for children from Grades 1 to 3 could drop with suggested changes at the OCDSB.

One week after an Ottawa Carleton District School Board committee recommended delaying sweeping changes to French immersion until 2017, the board has voted to consider the changes for September 2016 after all.

A majority of OCDSB members decided to overturn the committee's earlier recommendation after receiving a report from Director of Education Jennifer Adams and Chief Financial Officer Michael Carson suggesting that implementing French immersion changes could help reduce the board's deficit by $2.7 million.

On Nov. 17, trustees voted to hold off on considering the changes, which would affect students from junior kindergarten to Grade 3, until 2017 after hearing from some parents who believed there wasn't enough consultation.

"We can't just flip-flop. That's not how you make decisions," said Mark Fisher, one of two OCDSB trustees who voted against reconsidering the committee's decision Tuesday.

Under the proposed changes, French immersion would be expanded to all children for half their school day — from 20 minutes per day to 150 minutes — in both junior and senior kindergarten.

The number of hours of French-language instruction for students from Grades 1 to 3 who stick with the immersion program would be reduced, however, from either 300 or 240 minutes per day to 180 minutes.

The changes are being recommended by the board as a result of Ontario's new two-year full-day kindergarten program.

Tuesday's staff report suggests while the attitudes of those opposed to the expansion "are unlikely to change over time," there could be further consultation as long as a final decision is made by mid-January 2016.

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