Students pass outside the St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School in Innisfail. The Catholic School Board was meeting Tuesday to discuss the fate of the French Immersion program at the school.

Low enrolment ends French program in Innisfail

The French immersion program at St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School will be scrapped at the end of the current school year.

The French immersion program at St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School will be scrapped at the end of the current school year.

The board of trustees of the Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools voted unanimously to axe the kindergarten to Grade 4 program in Innisfail because of low enrolment and the huge cost to run the program on Tuesday night.

Last March the trustees gave the program a one-year reprieve before making a final decision following an emotional plea from parents and school staff.

Board chairwoman Adriana LaGrange said school administration and district staff exhausted all efforts to increase enrolment but the numbers didn’t come. The projected cost to run the program for the 2012-2013 school year is $121,000.

Principal Rose McQuay said this will not spell the end of French at the pre-kindergarten to Grade 9 school. All students in Grade 4 and 5 will continue with French language classes.

“We are also looking at our Grade 1 and 2 students this year in order to take a gifted program in French for next year,” she said.

“So we’re trying to be able to offer opportunities so they will be able to be exposed to the French culture and language.”

The program was introduced in 2007 with 14 students in kindergarten. In September 2010, there were 36 students in kindergarten to Grade 3. In September 2011, 23 students were enrolled from kindergarten to Grade 4.

Projections indicated there would be 21 students in kindergarten to Grade 5 in September 2012.

The Catholic district offers French immersion at Our Lady of the Rosary School and Mother Teresa School in Sylvan Lake and Camille J. Lerouge and Notre Dame High School in Red Deer.

In other news:

l Two modular classrooms will be added to Notre Dame High School by September. This brings the total to six modulars on the school site. The board will ask the province for an additional modular.

l A new high school, additional space for St. Francis of Assisi Middle School and modernization of St. Patrick’s Community School top the district’s 2012-2015 capital plan. Trustees approved its plan last night with a few re-jigging of priorities in light of the new elementary school and the modernization projects approved last May.

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