École Davis Road parents and teachers want to keep French and English students together

A PAC-conducted survey shows 60-plus parents would take students out of the district if the English track is removed from École Davis Road.

Karen Fediuk

Parents and teachers at École Davis Road Elementary (EDR) are at loggerheads with School District 68 over plans to relocate students in the school’s English stream to other schools in the district.

Concerned parents and teachers met last week to discuss the school district’s proposed reconfiguration of Ladysmith area schools, including the relocation of EDR English-track students to Ladysmith Intermediate School (LIS) and Ladysmith Primary School (LPS).

Janelle Mould, a kindergarten and Grade 1 teacher in the school’s English track, said their “primary concern would be the ripping apart of the culture that we’ve built here. The English and French tracks here operate as one track. We may have two languages, but as a community of learners, we’re one, and we’re one strong. Everything we do, we do together as a group — French and English —so we don’t feel that the French and English should be separated. That dual-track nature provides a lot of benefits for all of our students.”

Disruption of the school’s status quo wasn’t the only item of concern for parents or teachers.

Those present called into question the $100,000 in presumed savings consultant Dr. Doug Player claimed the move would produce during his presentation to the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District board of education April 11.

“We feel that it’s quite a bit lower than that,” Mould added. “We had a figure at one point that came out at $19, 257 I believe it was, so there’s quite a discrepancy.”

Mould said that dollar figure had been presented to the chair of the school’s parent advisory council (PAC) “at some point” by SD68.

The alleged savings are based on inaccurate enrolment numbers, Mould said.

“They are saying that we would have fewer teachers needed if we joined LPS and LIS, and we’re saying — with our numbers — that’s not true.”

Ladysmith straddles the boundary between school districts 68 and 79, Mould said, making it simple for parents to transfer their children from one district to the other.

A survey conducted by EDR’s PAC “within the last week” revealed that 60-plus parents were committed to removing their children from SD68 “if the English track [at EDR] were to be removed.”

Schools receive $8,000 in funding per student each year from the province, meaning a mass exodus on this scale would result in a loss of “almost $500,000” in funding for SD68, Mould said.

Ultimately, removing English stream students from EDR before the beginning of the 2013-14 school year is a move considered by parents and teachers at the school as “way too fast.”

“And even if [the savings] were at the high end — $100,000 — that doesn’t justify the trauma that will be created by separating the two tracks here,” Mould added.

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