School board not out of the firing line yet

Decision to move French Immersion to North Oyster is a big step

Alas, a decision has been made with regards to school reconfiguration in the Ladysmith zone, with École Davis Road Elementary closing in June.

As a result Davis Road’s French Immersion program will now be run out of North Oyster Elementary, making it a dual-track school from September, and notably, Ladysmith Secondary will welcome a new batch of Grade 7 students.

In recent times I have felt like an education reporter for this community rather than a general one, chasing down view after view in my attempts to give as many people a voice throughout this grueling process.

Finally, School District 68 has come to a decision on something that was supposed to have been finalized back in December.

On that pivotal night back on Feb. 6 I anticipated many upset Davis Road parents and associates at the end of the evening.

I wasn’t wrong, but even the most passionate members of Davis Road’s PAC would probably admit that this was a decision they saw coming as did I.

Having said that, credit has to go to all the Davis Road families for putting up a tremendous fight in a bid to keep their school open.

They created a strong, defiant argument which many people couldn’t help but take note of, and one that in many other cases would have likely brought about a triumphant result on their part.

That voice is not going to go away anytime soon.

But at the end of the day, Davis Road has been reported as having the worst facilities in the district, a factor that no doubt proved to be crucial at the SD68 board table.

Throughout this whole process, Davis Road advocates have emphasized to me the importance of keeping a community together.

The only elementary school in the south end of Ladysmith has now been close, with French Immersion being taken out of the town completely.

No doubt that will take some getting used to, with French students at Davis Road arguably now having the biggest decision of all.

Do parents follow the program, head to North Oyster which reportedly has the best facilities in the Ladysmith zone, and drive approximately 14 kilometres each day for a school run? Or do they stay in town, dropping out of French completely, and change to English track at either Ladysmith Primary or Intermediate?

I reckon choices will be made based on what is valued more: community or French Immersion.

North Oyster has a history of poor enrolment that will likely improve even slightly with Cedar kids now having a closer drive for French Immersion as well.

SD68 chair Dot Neary said at the special meeting that it was a decision her and fellow trustees needed to get right.

Whether they have done so, only time will tell.