No new French this fall, says school board

  • Mar. 30, 2009 4:00 p.m.

There will be no new French immersion class at Sk’aadgaa Naay in September, but a class may be offered in the fall of 2010, school trustees decided at their March meeting. The trustees accepted a recommendation from superintendent Angus Wilson, who said there’s interest in a new French immersion class, but that interest would be even stronger if the district waits until 2010. The first immersion class started in the fall of 2008 with a group of 22 students in grades 1, 2 and 3. Mr. Wilson said there are 16 students left in that class, now in grades 2, 3 and 4. A survey of Sk’aadgaa Naay parents found there are enough potential students to offer an immersion class this fall, with soft interest from about 16 students, Mr. Wilson said. But if the school waits until 2010 to offer a fresh class for grades 1, 2 and 3, it could attract more students (perhaps as many as 23) and avoid a grade overlap with the first immersion class, Mr. Wilson said. A looming problem is what will happen to students from the first immersion class once they reach high school, which will happen in the fall of 2012. The issue has already been discussed by staff, Mr. Wilson said. “We can’t figure out a way to do a viable French immersion program at the high school,” he said. There may be ways around this, perhaps by joining forces with another school district, but there’s nothing clear at the moment. In other school district news:. Trustees voted to start the process of changing the district’s allergic reaction policy to state that all schools will be “scent-considerate workplaces” and that people who wear strong perfumes or other scents will be asked to stop. The revised policy is being sent out to the unions and other stakeholders for comment. Strong scents are sometimes a problem in the high schools, Mr. Wilson said, where “many teenage boys seem to feel that if a little Axe attracts girls then a lot of Axe will attract a lot more girls.”. Trustees voted to remove the district’s conflict of interest policy, which said that relatives cannot work together in the same office or classroom and cannot have supervisor-subordinate relationships. Superintendent Angus Wilson said the policy could affect the district’s ability to hire the best people. Trustees agreed, with Elizabeth Condrotte calling it “silly in this day and age and very patronizing”.. Mr. Wilson said he has received eight responses so far to the board’s proposal to change the name of the district to “Haida Gwaii” from “Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte”. So far, most responses are opposed to changing the name. Input is still open on this issue until May 8 and Mr. Wilson said he expects to hear more.