LETTER: French immersion has been effective in keeping schools open

In my research that I have done, I have found MANY schools that have either been saved or drastically improved in numbers simply by adding EFI in their programming.

Take, for example, Roxmore Public school in Avonmore.  (Upper Canada District School Board). Avonmore is a small town, with even fewer residents that Munster and was on the brink of closure numerous time.  The final time, the community pushed for EFI because of the growing demand in their community as well as their neighbouring communities.  The school went from a population of 63 students one year, to 105 the next.  Why?  Because of EFI!
Another example would be Broadview Public School in Ottawa. Even though it was not at risk of closing, the undeniable increase of student population can be seen because of the introduction of EFI.  In  the 2008-2009 year, they had a total of 149 students from JK-Grade 4.  The following year, they had 341 students, an increase of 192 children.  And now, they have a total of 430 students.
Yet another example would be Devonshire Public School in Ottawa.  In 2003, with only 138 students from JK-Grade 3, the board was going to close the school, but luckily for them, EFI was implemented.  Last year, their student population was 245!
My hope, now, is that another trustee raises the motion for EFI and that is what they vote on at the board meeting on February 24.  The meeting begins at 7pm at the Ottawa-Carleton School Board office on Greenbank Road.
Laura Rupert-Doane, Munster

5 thoughts on “LETTER: French immersion has been effective in keeping schools open”

  1. Those are totally different situations, with very different population distributions. The fact is that the entire English catchment area has 291 elementary age children in them. Another fact is that many of them *are* moving past the elementary stage, and that there are *not* new ones making up for that loss.

    Given Area A is out, Area B moving past the elementary stage entirely, that leaves 23+16 out. 291-23-16=252 students. That’s before anyone in core area C not wanting to cooperate. 8 in Area C for just JK and SK, having stated that won’t be part of this. So, for an entire block move, that’d be how many not wanting this? Might be 24 (8 * 3 = 24).

    Now the problem. There are 6 main programs:
    1) English public
    2) EFI public
    3) MFI public
    4) English Catholic
    5) EFI Catholic
    6) MFI Catholic
    It used to be that (1) was pretty big, and that was working for MES. That’s changed to people distributing to all the other programs. Once MES reached below critical mass, additional ones bailed, because it was causing too many problems.
    What you’re trying to do, is to make everyone come back. But that can’t work, because for one, 228/6=38 students, 5 to 6 per grade. With a good chance that you might see grades with just 0 students in them.

    Ok, EFI might be more popular than MFI, but pretending that magically 5 per grade changes to 15 per grade, would be very distorted.

    You’re expecting that somehow a whole bunch of people move away from the various diverted programs, and funnel them all into a single program at MES. They would all have to be willing to endure an experimental stage in the hopes that you’re right.

    Now, if there were like 150 * 6 = 900 elementary students ultimately in or around the area to pick from, it would become possible to see a 150+ student school in a climate of 6 different programs. But those numbers do not exist.
    The other problems that work against MES, is that it is near a district border. You’re not getting a supply from the Beckwith side. You have a core area population that is much too low, needing people to come from other directions to where people don’t want to travel to. It’s been pointed out countless of times. People in Richmond want to see their kids on the way to work. Ultimately, they want to see the service where they live, and I’m sure that’ll happen at some point.
    Right now, on the way to work, that’s mostly towards Ottawa, Kanata, around there. Munster is in the wrong direction. Sure, a few might be ok with it, but the majority is not.

    There would be a mass revolt if Area D was simply dictated to attend MES.

    Ultimately, all the blaming needs to stop. These things are circumstances. Noone is specifically plotting to close your school. But people want to keep their kids out of something that they’re convinced will not provide them the proper education. (ps. it’s been brought up a bunch of times, how combining EFI grades is seriously problematic!).

    Can’t you see why people don’t want to see their kids moved from a properly working program to a sub-standard program in a location they do not want?

    And then the English program. A new program would further reduce the English program with some switching, so, yes, it’d become entirely up to a single new program, to make up for the current program making the school entirely empty. I know that the 65% required level isn’t always 100% required, but a third or half of that though? There are way too many factors working against it, and the numbers simply are just not there at all. Comparing to different schools in other places with different population distributions makes no sense at all. People don’t magically materialize out of thin air! Keep on claiming that the numbers are there, does not make it so. Going on evidence, shows that it is not feasible.

    You can’t turn back the clock. Things have changed. Programs are more diluted in numbers. Ontario sure is inefficient with its education system. 6 programs for crying out loud! Distribution problems. And people in Catholic schools trying to use forms to keep their kids out of religion class, and schools not honoring those rules set by the supreme court. Good grief what a mess it is.

    What would help a great deal, is if the Catholic system is merged with the public system. You’d buy all kinds of flexibility, and also save all kinds of money, if they’d do that. 6 programs would become 3 programs. 291/3=97 is already looking much better.

  2. Parents who have asked to bring EFI to Munster and asked that the school remain open have all asked that no children be forced to attend MES and be uprooted! Clearly you only care about your child so please don’t pretend that you care about any of the students of MES. You keep spouting numbers like they are gospel but just because you say it, doesn’t make it so! Richmond is very closely aligned with Munster and numerous families from RPS have written the trustees supporting EFI at Munster. You also keep claiming that there are no school age children and that our catchment area is an aging population, again not true, I live in a court with 13 houses, in just 3 of them there are 9 children under the age of 11. This is not an anomaly, there are many families returning to the area to raise their families. Keep your kid at ALC, fight for that, but please stop spouting half truths!

  3. When your efforts include any and all efforts to somehow get an EFI program in, when facing the obvious reality, I find it reckless against any children, our own and your own, at this point. There aren’t any guarantees at all that if anything goes through, if that were to include a partial block move, and entire move across the board, or phase in. You would have it any way, whatever makes it happen, without you showing any respect for, or having any qualms at all what happens to those children – or your own children.

    You’re still not showing how the children being used in a new program are going to be taken care of, when you know that combining EFI grades is particularly problematic for an EFI program. In order to avoid that problem you would have to have a block move. And so your claim that it wouldn’t affect us ALC children, is again, not a genuine one.

    You keep on pretending that somehow there are magical numbers above and beyond reality. So, claiming 291 when it suits you, it’s real, and when it doesn’t, it’s just spouting made up numbers?

    So a few parents in Richmond would be ok with sending their children to MES, but the rest does not. Those few do not bring the numbers to any reasonable level!

    Do those few parents know, by the way, that there are new elementary schools coming in other parts of Stittsville that are going to relieve Westwind’s overpopulation?
    To move just because it’s crowded, isn’t necessary!

    So, 13 houses on your street have 3 houses with 9 children under 11. Isn’t that just about past grade 5, aka, past MES years? Doesn’t help MES does it.

    Our street has 19 houses having 12 EFI children that are soon moving past grade 5 also. The rest aren’t in the public system. There is only one JKer, one SKer, and one grade 1er to pick from this coming September.

    Imagine what people in Stittsville might think when they’re reading all of this. We’re talking about single streets with just a few children, and fighting over how a school can work based on that. People in Stittsville live on streets part of countless of other streets in all directions, literally oozing children by the 100s.

    Anyway, this isn’t spouting numbers, it is stating hard undeniable facts. The undeniable fact is that Area B has nothing to gain from. So stop trying to pretend that you’re going to build a new program using Area B. Or Area A.

    A few from area D isn’t going to bolster Area C to make it viable. Plus there is opposition within your core Area C. So what you lose in Area C, might be maybe made up for, using Area D.
    It seems you would have no problem in just trying it out, and see how it goes. What are the educational years for those children going to look like?

    Another undeniable fact is that the English program will only suffer an accelerated demise with an EFI program, because it’d not only halt growth, not that there was any, but cause a further siphoning from the English program.

    Thus the English program will only end quicker with another program in place. That would leave the school completely empty, and it becomes entirely up to its new program to make for enough numbers to justify it.

    And those numbers aren’t going to be acceptable by a long shot. There aren’t any ifs ands or buts about this at this point! The more you look at it, the more it becomes crystal clear that it just can not work.

    This situation has become so ridiculous it’s just not funny anymore. It’s now just become a show by a vocal minority that includes special interests, against the rest that can see that it just won’t work.

  4. The fact is that of those 9 children, 6 of them are 5 and under, and would have been going to Munster at some point had the OCDSB listened to parents concerns and if their was EFI, all will now be going to the Catholic board as none of us want our children in a school th size of A.Lorne. Sure not huge numbers but make a huge difference to a small school!

    MES was never meant to be a huge school, it was designed to meet the needs of our community and the rural residents surrounding Munster. Yes programming options have changed and taken students away but their is still life for MES.

    You are being disingenuous by pretending like you care for all the children when your only concern is your child being moved, which is fair enough, fight for your kids right to stay where they are but don’t pretend it’s anything other than that!

  5. Our street has 1 3 year old, nothing below that, 1 5 year old (almost, I think), 1 6 year old, and the rest are older, with some approaching grade 5. There are zero prospects for any further children at this point.
    In the documents, I see 202 children at MES in 2004. Then 6 years later it’s just over half that. Then 5 years from then less than half of that (given that it’s, what, 49 now?). The charts also show that during that same time, English was declining, and EFI and MFI and “Other” were on the rise. The board also lost students to the Catholic system.
    This all means that there is now no longer a single concentrated program that makes up the bulk of it.
    With increased programming choices, causing more diluted programs, each program needs a much larger population base to make it work.
    In particular, EFI is a particularly bad choice to get going, because grade sharing is problematic for that program.
    So, MES has a dilemma. Program diversification draining MES’ supply, causing it to have to cope with more and more towards just 1/6 of the supply, to the point where it reached below that critical mass where it started to cause problems, making people leave for additional reasons.
    Adding a program would only provide more reasons for English to drain more.
    You can’t replace its program with a different program to achieve the numbers from the past, because there are too many programs all taking a more balanced slice than in the past.
    The English program no longer has the overwhelming majority. No program has an overwhelming majority.
    *That* is ultimately MES’ dilemma.
    These are all unfortunate circumstances.

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