French community weighs school options

Recently, 35 members of the Yukon French community met to discuss options for a new high school. “We have a need for space right now,”…

Recently, 35 members of the Yukon French community met to discuss options for a new high school.

“We have a need for space right now,” said francophone school board president Andre Bourcier.

“Basically we had a first meeting with the community trying to figure out what the options could be and what the community would like to see happen,” said Bourcier.

Ecole Emilie Tremblay, the francophone school — grades K-12 — in Whitehorse, is currently running multiple-level classrooms.

As school enrolment grows, it’s becoming necessary to split up levels into their own classrooms, said Bourcier.

By 2009, the school board predicts there will be no more space for the community’s high school students.

The meeting floated five options for a new high school.

One option was to expand the current school, either with a second floor or a new annex.

Or else l’Alexandrin, the Legion building recently bought by the Yukon French association, could be renovated to accommodate the high school students.

The community could get a wing at the new FH Collins high school, but it runs the risk of assimilation.

A new francophone high school could be built, but that would be expensive.

Last, a partnership could be negotiated with Copper Ridge residents, who could use the newly constructed high school as a community centre.

The school board plans to meet with school personnel in January and with students in February.

Another public meeting is planned in March or April and a final decision is expected by June.

Ministers Elaine Taylor and Glenn Hart attended the meeting as did Rejean Bernard the Yukon’s Heritage Canada rep.

“We also have to remember that the French community is the only school community able to bring in fresh money,” said Bourcier.

When the French school was built in 1995, the board received $3 million through a federal funding agreement.

The school also received $1,423,726 from the territory.

“If we were able to do the same thing again with the Feds then we would bring in new money,” he said.

The June decision date would allow school construction to begin in spring ’09, said Bourcier.

The new school, wherever it might be, could open sometime in 2011.

In the meantime, as Ecole Emilie-Tremblay may have to use portables.