Yukon’s Department of Education and the francophone school board are discussing the possibility of temporarily moving French high school students to the old F.H. Collins school.
The announcement was made during a public meeting of the school board last night.
The Emilie-Tremblay parents council presented a petition to the school board on May 21 asking that l’Academie Parhelie, the French high school, be moved next year. The petition gathered 130 signatures. There about 200 students at the school.
The parents say they want a temporary solution while a new school is built.
In early May, the government announced the school board picked the Riverdale skate park as a potential site for a new French high school. Currently, francophone high school students share the Emilie-Tremblay school with elementary students.
As things stand, francophone parents say that children are leaving the French school system once they reach the higher grades for lack of adequate facilities.
The Education Department initially responded to the petition by proposing that French high school students could move to the Individual Learning Centre, a building on Black Street for students with special needs.
But after teachers visited the space, it was deemed not suitable, interim executive director Marc Champagne told the public last night.
“There were no gym, no labs, not all the infrastructures necessary,” he said.
The move would result in some services being left at Emilie-Tremblay school, like school councilors. The school board said that was unacceptable.
“Let’s not delude ourselves: the program is at risk,” said Champagne.
As things stand, French high school students use the same art, music and home economics classrooms meant for elementary students. Grade 9 to 12 students are set up in portables brought by the government.
While the old F.H. Collins school is not ideal – there is a reason it’s being demolished, Champagne reminded people – it’s the best option given the circumstances, he said.
“We just half-opened the door, there is a glimmer of hope,” he said at the meeting, reminding parents the school board was still in talks and no agreement had been reached.
Talks are still in early stages, confirmed Ludovic Gouaillier, the head of the French school board, in an interview with the News.
“There are no firm plan right now, several questions have to be solved first,” Gouaillier said.
The school board has been looking at alternative sites for the French high school for a while, he said, but they all had crucial shortcomings – except for the old F.H. Collins school, an idea the school board suggested to the department.
In January, Premier Darrell Pasloski shuffled his cabinet, switching the education portfolio from MLA Elaine Taylor to Doug Graham.
The school board told parents the cabinet shuffle helped with the discussions.
If the department agrees with that plan, the move wouldn’t be in time for the start of the new school term in September, Gouaillier said, as current students at F.H. Collins won’t move to the new facility until the New Year.
Department officials confirmed the school board had put forward F.H. Collins as an alternative but that no decision had been made.
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