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Sherwood’s French immersion startup date in doubt

Staff to review call to delay program until 2016

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board trustees will decide this fall whether to act on calls to push back the introduction of French immersion at Sherwood Secondary School by a year.

Executive superintendent Pam Reinholdt said staff continues to work toward a 2015 startup date and will form a transition committee this fall to help plan the specialty program, initially expected to attract 90 to 100 students in Grade 9.

But she said senior administrators will review that timeline early this September and make a recommendation on whether to delay the program until 2016, as recommended by the board’s French immersion advisory committee.

Reinholdt said any delay is complicated by the need to reduce enrolment at Westdale, which is adding Bennetto and Hess Street as elementary feeder schools in 2016 along with English-as-a-second-language programs.

“We have to try to balance the numbers at Westdale in order to have those students enter,” she told the board’s program subcommittee.

“By starting the program in 2015, a number of students who normally would have gone to Westdale would now be redirected to Sherwood.”

Ward 5 trustee Todd White, who sits on the French immersion advisory committee, said the original plan to start the program at Sherwood in September 2015 was based on two new high schools being built by then.

That logic’s changed now that they are set to open in 2016, he said, adding that waiting a year will likely boost initial enrolment to about 120, addressing concerns from parents in the east end and Ancaster about the program’s viability.

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