The Yukon Francophone School Board is taking the territory to court over funding.
The territory receives federal funding from Canadian Heritage for French language education.
The Francophone school board doesn’t feel that it’s receiving its fair share.
“We are facing cutbacks, both at the board level and at the school level,” said board director Lorraine Taillefer.
“And one of the reasons is that the government is not recognizing the Academie Parhelie or its needs.”
The Academie Parhelie is a special program designed to increase enrollment in Emilie Tremblay’s high school.
The progressive program focused on integrated learning with tons of projects and trips.
Each student got their own laptop.
The pilot program received special funding in 2007 to get it started.
The federal government gave $200,000 a year for two years.
The territorial government gave more than $375,000 the first year of the program, more than $515,000 the second, and continues to fund the program this year.
“We had asked to have that program recognized and carried on because we’re making progress and we’re seeing good results,” said Taillefer.
But that funding is now coming to an end.
As a result, the high school program will be losing one staff member, but the board is trying to make as few cuts at the school level as possible.
“We wouldn’t be able to function at the academie with less than five teachers,” said Taillefer.
“Even five teachers is going to be difficult to teach all subjects from grades 7 to 12.”
To save money, the school board plans to get rid of its communications position by not renewing the contract.
The board’s early childhood co-ordinator position will also not be continued.
The board feels that it is entitled to more federal money and is asking that the French education funding be transferred directly to the board.
“That would allow us to carry on with initiatives that meet our needs,” said Taillefer.
“And that’s not happening at the departmental level. They’re giving us what they think is appropriate and we don’t agree, hence the court case starting in two weeks.”
The case will begin May 17th.
The Canadian Heritage funding is used to promote French as both a first and second language, said Christie Whitley, the assistant deputy minister of public schools branch.
“The territory decides how much money it wants to invest in first-language programming and gives that money to the Francophone School Board.”
On top of that funding, there is additional funding for special projects – like the Academie Parhelie.
The school board is supposed to put together a report on what they want to do with the pilot program.
So far, the territory hasn’t received this report, said Whitley.
Instead, they’ve been taken to court.
The project was intended to increase enrolment numbers in the French high school.
Enrolment numbers have been fluctuating over the past three years.
In 2006, there were 43 students in the Emilie Tremblay’s high school program.
Numbers went as low as 28 students in 2007 and are currently around 37 students.
“It takes a long time to implement a program,” said Taillefer.
“You won’t see success in the first three years, that is for sure.”
Could the academie not cut back on some of its other expenses, like laptops, in order to retain teachers?
The computers are essential for accessing French language resources, which are in short supply in the territory, said Taillefer.
“The funding used for the laptops is minimal really. It wouldn’t allow for extra staffing.”
Contact Chris Oke at firstname.lastname@example.org