With only about 60 spaces left in elementary French immersion, the Kamloops-Thompson School District might consider expanding the program within the next couple of years.
“If the demand is there for the program, we will expand it,” school district Supt. Terry Sullivan said Thursday. “Space is not an issue.”
Final enrolment numbers for the 2012-1013 school year won’t be available until the end of the month, but preliminary results show there are 1,075 French immersion students in the district.
Assistant superintendent Karl deBruijn said this is an increase from the last school year when 1,040 students were enrolled.
The trend in Kamloops mirrors provincial data released Thursday, which revealed there are 2,008 more B.C. students in French immersion this school year compared to last.
Sullivan said this is contrary to what some parents thought would be the death of French immersion in Kamloops when administrators did away with English/French schools in favour of French only.
There were seven schools with French immersion prior to 2009. Now there are two: L’Ecole Lloyd George and South Sahali elementary. South Kamloops secondary is the only high school with a program.
Sullivan said Lloyd George is full at 446 pupils. South Sahali has space for 60 more pupils.
“The decision the (school) board made was the right decision,” Sullivan said of the move to a French-only school.
Which is good news for Glyn Lewis, executive director of Canadian Parents for French, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of French as a second language.
He said this is proof that parents and children are interest in French immersion.
“It’s no longer an obscure program,” said Lewis. “This is something they recognize as a strong and popular program.”
At the program’s peak there were 1,168 boys and girls in French immersion in Kamloops, said deBruijn. The lowest point was 764 in 2002-2003.