Q & A’s About the New Proposed Oakville High School
I want to thank you for seeking clarification regarding the confusion about French Immersion (FI) programming at the secondary level in Oakville and for asking me about the rumours that continue to resonate. There is a high school planned to open in Ward 4 on West Oak Trails Boulevard in 2012. It is being built to accommodate the future population growth in Oakville and to relieve the overcrowding at Abbey Park High School and White Oaks Secondary School. All of the students at Abbey Park are English stream students, not French Immersion students. The majority of students attending White Oaks are English stream students, not French Immersion students. A single-track FI school in Halton is one that houses French Immersion students only. A dual-track school in Halton is one that houses both FI and English stream students. We do not typically refer to a high school as dual or single track. High schools provide a wide scope of program and course options throughout Oakville, Halton and Ontario. High Schools do not necessarily offer the same programs or courses. The number of staff allocated to each school is directly related to the total number of students enrolled in the school. There are two main categories of courses offered to students in high school; compulsory/mandatory and elective. To graduate with a Secondary School Diploma students must successfully complete 18 compulsory courses and 12 elective courses. Please refer to the Ministry of Education for more information on OSSD requirements. http://high.isnaschools.com/ontario_secondary_school_diploma_ossd_requirements.aspx Principals and staff have flexibility in the courses they offer to high school students. Each year in February students are expected to submit a course list that includes both compulsory and elective choices for the following school year. Principals and staff review the submissions and begin the planning and staffing process for the upcoming year. When enrolment in a course is insufficient or low it is removed as an option and students are supported and directed to choose an alternate course. Students enrolled in other programs such as Specialist High Skill Major, (SHSM), French Immersion, Ford Academy of Manufacturing (FAM), Apprenticeship Training, International Baccalaureate (IB), Halton Home Building or Hair Styling must also adhere to the OSSD requirements. Their courses are subjected to the same process as described above. Today I received confirmation from the planning Department that we have a total of 821 students participating in F I programming at the Secondary Schools in Oakville. Those 821 students are spread across all of Oakville. These students are attending four different schools, in four different locations across Oakville. The schools that are currently offering FI are T.A. Blakelock-SW, White Oaks-NE, Iroquois Ridge-NE and Oakville Trafalgar-SE. Abbey Park High School does not currently offer a French Immersion Program leaving North West Oakville the only area without such a program. The rumour about creating a single track FI high school in Oakville is just that, a rumour. Having spent four years representing Ward 4 in the realm of education and accommodation, the notion of a single track FI high school in Ward 4 (or anywhere else in Oakville) does not make sense to me. There are not enough secondary French Immersion students to warrant a single-track French Immersion High School in the NW or Oakville. Could it happen? It would take six votes at the board table. Would I support it? No! Our community has been waiting years for this school to be built. Parents want their high school students accommodated closer to home! During the past four years I have received many phone calls about students having to cross the bridge at Sixteen Mile Creek; it is a very long walk in the winter. Once the new high school is built, English track students from Ward 4 should be able to attend school this side of the Upper Middle Road Bridge. Optional attendance may be available for students choosing to attend specialized programming outside of the local community. These specialized programs are exceptionally important for the engagement and success of some of our students. Students want choice in education; parents want choice for their children. There has not yet been any discussion about the programming or the specific boundaries of the new North West Oakville High School. I have been working with the Town, HDSB staff and community members to resolve some concerns about the location of the school building on the construction site. We only received the “approval to build, with conditions” at the Town of Oakville Site Meeting of October 12th, 2010. I have listened respectfully and intently to the diversified opinions of Ward 4 over the last four years. My decisions at the board table have been guided by what I have learned from parents, community members, students, staff and hours of professional development. It is unfortunate that people have been affected by the rumours that are circulating. Below I have attempted to dispel some of the myths and provide answers to some of the outstanding questions. FACTS: -A single-track French Immersion High School has never been discussed in my presence; -The delivery of French Immersion at the secondary level is very different than the elementary level; -A single track French Immersion Secondary School model does not exist in Halton;I understand the parents and the program and accommodation issues in NW Oakville and Halton and I would never recommend a single-track French Immersion high school; -A consultation with community members will be conducted and as always and along with other information the community input will be considered; -One trustee cannot make this decision or any other decision. Decisions are made via the democratic process by eleven trustees at the board table; -Ecole Forest Trail was built specifically to deal with the overcrowding at Ecole Pine Grove and was designated FI before I was elected; -I supported Palermo Public School as a single-track FI Center as a means to deal with the exceptionally high FI enrolment in Ward 4; many parents residing in Palermo had expressed their desire to remain at their “holding school”; -At no time has English Programming been in jeopardy nor will it ever be; -I believe in specialized programming and choice because students are successful in programming specific to their educational strengths, interests and needs; -The link that you may have seen to the Inside Halton article was written in 2006 while I was the Co-Chair of Ecole Pine Grove; This was before I was elected to represent all Public School supporters, students and parents; -My passion for safe caring, family friendly schools of excellence is well documented; -My commitment and dedication to do what is right for students, tax payers and education in Ward 4 and Halton has never wavered.