Rose Valley Elementary School in West Kelowna. Photo: School District 23

West Kelowna school targeted for French Immersion expansion

School board committee opts for Rose Valley over Hudson Road

Rose Valley Elementary has been identified as the most sustainable option to implement a new Middle French Immersion Grade 4 program on the Westside.

The school district superintendent Kevin Kaardal recommended Rose Valley because it has space for more portables to accommodate potential enrolment growth and in an area survey registered the most family interest in the program.

In a report to the planning and facilities committee, Kaardal said Hudson Road Elementary was also a viable option based on survey response interest from area parents but capacity to increase classroom space is limited beyond one division of Grade 4 and 5.

Related: School district moves forward with French Immersion

The school district objective is to create a second cohort of students outside of Ecole George Pringle catchment area that will transition to Glenrosa Middle School, and provides easier French Immersion access to northeast neighbourhoods in West Kelowna.

The Rose Valley choice has faced opposition from school staff and parents, concerned about the additional students causing transportation safety issues to and from the school site.

Sara Neukomm, a Rose Valley parent, wrote a letter to school trustees citing the potential of a logistical nightmare if the French Immersion program translates into 50 to 100 students by year two.

“(Rose Valley Elementary) has space for 8 portables, but just because they can have 8 does not mean they should. My child attended RVE when there were 8 portables and 540 students. It was a logistical nightmare,” Neukomm wrote.

She said that enrolment level led to limited parking for parents and staff putting stress on the neighbourhood, while students had staggered break times and limited access to the gym, music, library and computer lab.

Related: Late French Immersion program to start in West Kelowna

Trustee Moyra Baxter questioned if Ecole George Pringle expansion was a better option because school library and staff resources for the program are already in place.

But staff cited the need to expand the program access to more families across the district.

Trustee Deborah Butler introduced a resolution to the committee to have Hudson Road be the preferred school to expand the FI program, but it was defeated in a committee vote.

The Rose Valley Elementary recommendation will be forwarded to the school board for final ratification vote at the board’s June 13 meeting.

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