Hamilton trustees eye new rules on French immersion enrolment

News Apr 14, 2016 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

Hamilton’s public school board is considering a centralized application process for French immersion that promises a placement for any Grade 1 student wishing to enter the program, albeit not necessarily at their preferred school.

Superintendent Pam Reinholdt said the proposed approach is based on one used by Toronto’s public board and is intended to manage growing demand for the program, offered at 15 elementary and two high schools.

The proposed process would begin by setting a firm deadline for applications for Grade 1 from parents of senior kindergarten students.

Parents would receive a response within a specified period indicating which school has an available spot and then be given a deadline to register their child.

While the goal is to accommodate applicants at the nearest school offering French immersion, alternative locations may be necessary when demand exceeds spaces, she said.

Reinholdt said the process will allow for better planning than the existing system, which encourages parents to register their child in February but allows them to do so until the start of the school year in September.

She said staff rejected capping the program’s enrolment and using a lottery for available spaces, “a luck-of-the-draw” approach used by some Ontario school boards.

“We’re quite comfortable with it continuing to grow,” she told trustees during a presentation to the program committee meeting. “(French) is one of our two official languages and has lots of benefits for kids.”

Reinholdt said the new application process is part of a proposed new French immersion strategy for the 2017-18 school year that would take a systemic approach to expanding the program, which began with two senior kindergarten classes in 1975.

Potential new locations include Stoney Creek — the only area without a French immersion school — once a closure study on six schools below the escarpment is completed, she said.

Reinholdt said some parents in the area have told her they didn’t apply to French immersion programs in east Hamilton schools because their child faced spending 60 minutes on a bus.

“We don’t know how many people would come if it was offered because we don’t offer it,” she said. “The minimum we would need to open would be a Grade 1 class.”

Board chair Todd White said he supports setting deadlines in the application process, but parents should be told up front which school their child will attend.

He said the board is precise enough on enrolment projections to know if it will need to add a class at a school other than parents’ first choice.

“If we know we’re going to have that tipping point, announce in advance, ‘If you live in this corner of the catchment area, you are now going to this program in this school,’” he said.

Once they finalize details of the proposed strategy, trustees plan to consult the public before approving any changes.

Hamilton trustees eye new rules on French immersion enrolment

Placement, but not school, would be guaranteed

News Apr 14, 2016 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

Hamilton’s public school board is considering a centralized application process for French immersion that promises a placement for any Grade 1 student wishing to enter the program, albeit not necessarily at their preferred school.

Superintendent Pam Reinholdt said the proposed approach is based on one used by Toronto’s public board and is intended to manage growing demand for the program, offered at 15 elementary and two high schools.

The proposed process would begin by setting a firm deadline for applications for Grade 1 from parents of senior kindergarten students.

Parents would receive a response within a specified period indicating which school has an available spot and then be given a deadline to register their child.

“We’re quite comfortable with it continuing to grow."

While the goal is to accommodate applicants at the nearest school offering French immersion, alternative locations may be necessary when demand exceeds spaces, she said.

Reinholdt said the process will allow for better planning than the existing system, which encourages parents to register their child in February but allows them to do so until the start of the school year in September.

She said staff rejected capping the program’s enrolment and using a lottery for available spaces, “a luck-of-the-draw” approach used by some Ontario school boards.

“We’re quite comfortable with it continuing to grow,” she told trustees during a presentation to the program committee meeting. “(French) is one of our two official languages and has lots of benefits for kids.”

Reinholdt said the new application process is part of a proposed new French immersion strategy for the 2017-18 school year that would take a systemic approach to expanding the program, which began with two senior kindergarten classes in 1975.

Potential new locations include Stoney Creek — the only area without a French immersion school — once a closure study on six schools below the escarpment is completed, she said.

Reinholdt said some parents in the area have told her they didn’t apply to French immersion programs in east Hamilton schools because their child faced spending 60 minutes on a bus.

“We don’t know how many people would come if it was offered because we don’t offer it,” she said. “The minimum we would need to open would be a Grade 1 class.”

Board chair Todd White said he supports setting deadlines in the application process, but parents should be told up front which school their child will attend.

He said the board is precise enough on enrolment projections to know if it will need to add a class at a school other than parents’ first choice.

“If we know we’re going to have that tipping point, announce in advance, ‘If you live in this corner of the catchment area, you are now going to this program in this school,’” he said.

Once they finalize details of the proposed strategy, trustees plan to consult the public before approving any changes.

Hamilton trustees eye new rules on French immersion enrolment

Placement, but not school, would be guaranteed

News Apr 14, 2016 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

Hamilton’s public school board is considering a centralized application process for French immersion that promises a placement for any Grade 1 student wishing to enter the program, albeit not necessarily at their preferred school.

Superintendent Pam Reinholdt said the proposed approach is based on one used by Toronto’s public board and is intended to manage growing demand for the program, offered at 15 elementary and two high schools.

The proposed process would begin by setting a firm deadline for applications for Grade 1 from parents of senior kindergarten students.

Parents would receive a response within a specified period indicating which school has an available spot and then be given a deadline to register their child.

“We’re quite comfortable with it continuing to grow."

While the goal is to accommodate applicants at the nearest school offering French immersion, alternative locations may be necessary when demand exceeds spaces, she said.

Reinholdt said the process will allow for better planning than the existing system, which encourages parents to register their child in February but allows them to do so until the start of the school year in September.

She said staff rejected capping the program’s enrolment and using a lottery for available spaces, “a luck-of-the-draw” approach used by some Ontario school boards.

“We’re quite comfortable with it continuing to grow,” she told trustees during a presentation to the program committee meeting. “(French) is one of our two official languages and has lots of benefits for kids.”

Reinholdt said the new application process is part of a proposed new French immersion strategy for the 2017-18 school year that would take a systemic approach to expanding the program, which began with two senior kindergarten classes in 1975.

Potential new locations include Stoney Creek — the only area without a French immersion school — once a closure study on six schools below the escarpment is completed, she said.

Reinholdt said some parents in the area have told her they didn’t apply to French immersion programs in east Hamilton schools because their child faced spending 60 minutes on a bus.

“We don’t know how many people would come if it was offered because we don’t offer it,” she said. “The minimum we would need to open would be a Grade 1 class.”

Board chair Todd White said he supports setting deadlines in the application process, but parents should be told up front which school their child will attend.

He said the board is precise enough on enrolment projections to know if it will need to add a class at a school other than parents’ first choice.

“If we know we’re going to have that tipping point, announce in advance, ‘If you live in this corner of the catchment area, you are now going to this program in this school,’” he said.

Once they finalize details of the proposed strategy, trustees plan to consult the public before approving any changes.