VANCOUVER, B.C. – On Monday March 29, 2019, Vancouver School Board Trustees voted 7-2 to start phasing out the French Immersion program at Henry Hudson Elementary School in the 2020 school year. All three Green Trustees voted to phase out the program so that more in-catchment students can attend their neighbourhood school.
The need to phase out the program from Henry Hudson came as a result of enrolment pressures of the neighbourhood; there currently is not enough space to accommodate both the French Immersion program and local students living in the catchment area. Overall the district will not be losing French Immersion capacity because Kindergarten spaces will be added at current Early French Immersion schools.
“Our first priority has to be the students that live in the catchment area,” said Green Party Trustee Lois Chan-Pedley referring to the difficult decision.
“As a mother of two young boys, I understand how untenable it is to have a 5 year old travelling 5km to their first year of school because there’s no room at their neighbourhood school.
"It's an imperfect solution to a small part of large, complex problem. I acknowledge that the disruptions to the EFI community are emotionally very difficult. It was a tough decision and it was not made lightly."
During the meeting Green Trustee Estrellita Gonzalez forwarded a recommendation to the Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP) requiring that staff look into ways to ensure a geographically equitable distribution of choice programs such as French Immersion. The recommendation passed unanimously.
“The district has to include French Immersion programs in its long term planning in order to provide a more equitable distribution across the city,” said Trustee Gonzalez.
“As it stands the district cannot offer any choice programs in any of our downtown schools because there is no space to do so. The VSB needs to work with school communities to ensure the Ministry of Education understands it is critical to have the right sized school to serve the students in each neighbourhood.
“We faced a difficult decision at Hudson. Moving forward we need plan for increasing numbers of students in that neighbourhood and the demand for choice programs, especially in light of the recently announced development by the Squamish Nation.
“With the upcoming seismic upgrades, new schools being built, and the work being done on the citywide plan, we have a real opportunity to plan our schools in way that will meet student needs now and into the future.”