Currently the District has a registration policy that gives priority to siblings of students already enrolled in the French Immersion school. This means that the entire family can embrace French and support the children learning the language out of school hours. It also means that young siblings have the opportunity to bond and see each other during the school day. Many kids also attend before and after school care so if they are at separate locations the will not see each other at all during the week.
This is not just an issue for French immersion students as the District currently has the same policy for younger siblings of students in English schools. A catchment school is not always the ideal choice for families and there are many kids who do not attend their catchment school. In other cases, the family has moved since enrolling the oldest child and the younger siblings will need space at the same school.
The Sibling Priority policy is critical to the well being of students and families. The majority of Nanaimo and Ladysmith families work outside of the home and even for stay-at-home parents, it is not possible to pick-up and drop-off young kids to two different schools. The bell rings at almost the same time in schools across the District. Forcing children to go to different schools puts parents in an impossible situation.
Removing the sibling priority is being suggested as a way to reduce the waitlists for French Immersion which makes no sense, as the siblings still require the spaces. The only thing that will reduce the waitlist is meeting the demand for French Immersion spaces.
Please support our petition to keep our children together and to allow our older children to remain in the school that they are settled in and love. Moving children from French immersion to English in Grades 2 to 4 will lead to increased pressure on catchment schools' already stretched resources. Older children forced to move because of the logistical challenges parents face will feel isolated and likely have trouble adapting to an entirely new school setting and learning environment.
The District has other solutions and changing the rules now, with so little time for families to adapt (registration is in a few short months!) will create a significant hardship for families and lead to ongoing attrition and students leaving the French program as their younger siblings reach kindergarten age.