Nanaimo parents worried closure could affect French program

NANAIMO – Concern move to new secondary school could affect enrolment.

French immersion parents expressed concern during a consultation meeting Tuesday about a possible program move.

A proposal to close Woodlands Secondary School and send students to Nanaimo District could also see the French immersion program moved to John Barsby to make room in NDSS.

Parents are concerned about a drop in enrolment due to the longer commute and thus less provincial funding.

Jennifer Therriault, mother of a Grade 9 French immersion student, said it’s likely she would enrol her child at Barsby, but wonders how many would follow.

“If there was a large attrition rate, you might potentially lose the ability to have those courses that should be offered in French maybe not offered,” Therriault said.

Nanaimo District is easy to access due to its proximity to Vancouver Island University and the aquatic and ice centres, said Therriault.

Bernadette Lyons David has children at École Hammond Bay, an elementary French immersion school, and said the high school program should be located at either its current spot or Wellington Secondary, as they are transportation hubs.

“The French immersion elementary students come from all over Nanaimo,” said David.

Steve Rae, school board chairman, said the right thing to do is to look into all of the concerns of the parents, including transportation.

“Our staff is going to be, if they haven’t already, discussing with the [Regional District of Nanaimo] possible solutions to the concerns about transportation,” said Rae.