Imagine a School That You Can Walk To
"Imagine a school that your young child can walk to." -Toronto District School Board In the 2008-2009 school year, there were six Early French Immersion classes offered in the Toronto District School Board's (TDSB) Ward 15 schools of Jackman Avenue and Withrow Avenue Junior Public Schools, for a total of 129 Early French Immersion spots. For the 2009-2010 school year, the size of the program has been reduced by 37 spots, eliminating two of the six Senior Kindergarten classes. This was done despite the fact that the demand for Early French Immersion in Ward 15 continues to exceed the size of the program. As a result of this decision, approximately sixty families now find themselves on the waiting list for Early French Immersion at Jackman PS and Withrow PS, after a lottery for available spaces was held. The only option for these families, if they wish for their children to attend an Early French Immersion program within the TDSB, is to have their children bussed out of their Ward and away from their community. This option is unacceptable to many because they value the advantages of having their child attend a school in their community- "A school that your young child can walk to."- with all of the support of neighbourhood family and friends. The rationale provided for this decision to eliminate the two classes is that Jackman PS and Withrow PS (as dual track schools) were becoming "unbalanced" with the proportion of French-stream students exceeding a TDSB guideline of 60 percent of the total school population. This decision was informed by a community consultation process that failed to invite those immediately affected by this decision: families with children entering Senior Kindergarten for the first time in 2009. We, the undersigned, appreciate the difficulty of managing balance in a dual-track school, however, we feel that reducing access and discouraging enrolment to the Early French Immersion program in Ward 15 is not an acceptable solution. We ask that the TDSB reconsider its decision and reinstate the Early French Immersion Senior Kindergarten classes within the community (not necessarily at Withrow PS and/or Jackman PS) in a way that fosters sustainable French and English education.