LBPSB merges two elementary schools in Beaconsfield with different language programs.

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In an unprecedented move Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) will be merging two Beaconsfield elementary schools with different language programs, Sherwood Forest (SF), a bilingual school with low enrolment  and St. Paul’s (SP), an Early Immersion school with strong enrolment.  Parents of both schools have been signing an online petition at change.org since Tuesday evening in an effort to express their concerns about changing language programs to Français Plus, which is a more intense french program. At press time there were 122 signatures. 

The schools will be merged forming a junior school from grades Kindergarten (K) through Grade 2 to use the St. Paul building, and grades 3 through 6 to use the Sherwood Forest building, due to the major budget cuts to LBPSB to the tune of 13.5-million in funding last year.   

LBPSB offers three programs of study at the elementary level, Bilingual where instruction takes place 52% in French and 48% English for K through 6 as in the case of Sherwood Forest, Early Immersion where instruction takes place 85% French and 15% English for K-2; then 50/50 for grades 3 through 6 as is the case at St. Paul’s and Français Plus where 85% of the instruction is in French and 15% English for K through 4; then roughly 50/50 for Grades 5 and 6.

Read more at The Suburban 

15 COMMENTS

  1. Ms. Stein Day is unfortunately misrepresenting the facts. The facts are that it was only 51% of a portion of St. Paul’s community who expressed interest in Francais Plus in a casual survey, and the Sherwood Forest governing board recommended a move to Early Immersion as a compromise and a response to the writing on the wall — not as a desire to suddenly change our program of study. So in fact the vast majority of the parent community does not want this. There is no community-based rationale to change to Francais Plus.

    So, what about a pedagogical rationale? There is none. LBPSB showed us data at a Town Hall meeting last week, in which Early Immersion seemed to prepare children better for high school than either the Bilingual or Francais Plus programs. That was an awkward moment…. Furthermore, no school has ever before been asked to switch from Bilingual to Francais Plus. Because – bad idea for the kids.

    This decision has zero semblance of logic and no regard for the teachers, parents, and most importantly, for the kids. The real motivation seems to be that Lester B. Pearson believes we need to move towards as much French as possible in order to retain enrollment levels. But Early Immersion is doing wonderfully. So why on earth would you not go that route under the circumstances?

    As for a plan, there is also no plan in place. This was asked repeatedly the Town Hall meeting. We know nothing of the “support” Stein Day refers to, and we care little for platitudes about “welcoming students”.

    This is an error that will punish our children and our teachers, with no promise of any better school board outcome than a move to Early Immersion would have afforded. What a shame that hundreds of children’s education will be marked by an avoidable fiasco.

    • Very well written response. I am a teacher working for the LBPSB and feel that there is still a LOT of work to be done concerning the Francais Plus Program. I have my child enrolled in an Immersion program because I made that decision and it is appalling that the school board feels they have the right to vote in representing parents and repeatedly telling the media what is best for the community when this is not what the majority wants! It’s very frustrating and we still have a lot of work to do in order to improve this program and help get ALL students ready for English once they are required to read and write fluently in English by grade 5!

  2. We enrolled in St. Paul because of the academics that are currently offered. I would prefer to be able to have an immersion school available for my children. I feel that the numbers do not support the changes that are going to be implemented for our entire community. Only a very small majority of people at St. Paul wanted this, not including Sherwood Forest who were even less in favour of having a Français plus school. It does not seem logical to change two schools to Français plus when it seems that we barely have enough parents in favour of changing one school to Francais plus.

    Another concern is that now I will have children at two different schools. I feel that for my family it is beneficial to have all of my children together at the same school. I am sure there are very few people who would prefer to have split campuses. What is being gained by doing this? To me it seems that splitting campuses causes us to lose initiatives that are important at St. Paul such as mentoring for the younger children, families being together, and the Peace Pals. Our schools depend on parent involvement and now I will not be able to be involved if I am having to split my time between two schools. This will likely impact parent involvement negatively. When fundraising is being done for our schools are we now expected to do twice a much because we now have two schools to support? Without parent support how will we run classroom programs and libraries that currently require parent involvement? Without many parents these programs will fall apart and our children will suffer because of this!

    There are many concerns regarding how these changes will be implemented and how all of the students will adjust to so many changes. Ms Stein Day says we will get the support that the children need but they are not even able to staff a library without parent involvement.

    I also believe that many students will have much more difficulty with being taught math in French rather than in English. I really don’t feel that this is a beneficial change to our school in terms of educating our children and preparing them for high school.

    I wish that we had more opportunity to voice our concerns rather than one survey which was to gather information and was never presented as a decision-making tool . If it was going to be used as a decision-making tool why were straightforward questions not asked concerning exactly what type of education you want for your children?

  3. I’m not sure how Stein Day thinks they can promise “every opportunity to succeed” when many children in the school are already lacking exactly that. As a parent of a of a child who is already showing difficulties with learning languages, I cringe at the thought of all the children in the same situation being thrown even more challenges, and the teachers and staff being expected to perform miracles without any additional resources. Stop treating parents concerns as fleeting as Temporary please Ms. Stein Day. Our children will not all “easily adapt”, as I’ve heard repeated over and over again from board members at Major school change meetings.

  4. Unfortunately, the English language is once again being attacked. Instead of fighting back and respecting the wishes and rights of all Quebecers, the LBPSB is giving in to the road that separates choice from a mandated learning practice that will only serve to alienate our children from the rest of the world. The value of our “eligability certificates” are basically useless and educational rights have been taken away. It no surprise that parents are upset and feeling betrayed by the school board. This program is clearly driven by very few people who happen to have power to make global decisions and are skewing the facts as they need to, in order to justify their actions. If this is such a democratic decision, as it should be, why not host an actual vote?

  5. I have the unique perspective of having one child in each of these schools. I was concerned about merging these vastly different schools, even before the news of Francais Plus came out. It will be catastrophic for many of the Sherwood Forest Students should this change be implemented.

    Children don’t just “adapt” and catch up. Teachers are not miracle workers no matter how competent and well-meaning they are!

    Furthermore, what is to be done with Sherwood’s special needs and IEP population ( one of the more substantial numbers in the LBPSB)? Many students are struggling to read in their mother tongue and several grade levels behind in French as well. Throwing them into classes with children that have been in Immersion since Kindergarten and adding the stress of Francais Plus with all it entails ( math in French in some grades), is setting the child up for failure and discouragement. How could the elected members of the Board push this through in good conscience, unless, of course, it’s not about the well-being of the students at all.

    This whole process is making the Liberal Government’s case…who needs school boards when they work against student success and ignore the opinions of the very familes that elected them?

  6. How much money will be allocated directly to resources for the children affected by the merger? How many additional aides? If the board is going to live up to its promises of ensuring each child’s success, I am afraid an unprecedented program change from bilingual to francais plus will be a costly endeavor for all involved.

  7. Ms. Stein Day states in the article that we have 3 Immersion options: Beacon Hill, Margaret Manson & Dorset. However, we are not zoned for any of these schools. We would have to re-apply on a yearly basis to gain addmitance and there is no guarantee that there would be room.
    We have no interest in gambling with our children’s education.

  8. There is another choice, the students could remain in a 50/50 school and go to Christmas Park. For an English school board lbpsb spends to much time on French. Kids educated in 50/50 programs regularly get into and are very successful in enriched French classes in high school. I wish all these schools could get more money to support the kids and teacher to ensure success and not to implement new programs not truly want by their communities.

  9. As a resident on the West Island community, and a parent of St.Paul and courtesy to Sherwood Forest, I believe I can say that on behalf of the majority of emails and messages from my petition most have spoken.. They WANT Early Immersion (EI) and NOT Francais Plus (FP)! St.Paul and Sherwood Forest governing boards have brought reasonable solutions to the LBPSB which have fallen on deaf ears….As a reminder to LBPSB is a public service and a representation for the best interest in our children’s education and future society.. It is their responsibility to carry their mandate, otherwise if ignored, I would consider this irresponsible and negliable on their part… I’d like to bring an important reminder to all families that have an “English Eligible Certificate” … Don’t we still have the right to send our children to an English speaking school in Quebec? Obviously, it’s not 100% English but a program that already exist, like our EI program that is very strong and successful? My constitutional right is no longer respected or heard….

  10. As a parent at St. Paul, I find the handling of the situation by the Lester B Pearson Board has been very disappointing. The complete lack of communication during the consultations, the disregard of the combined population’s preferences, the late December announcement of the plan (leaving no time to react), the disorganized Town Hall, and finally what appears to be a disinterested reply from Ms. Stein Day, have all led to dissatisfaction with Lester B Pearson’s management of this process.

    I attended the Town Hall. There was no talk of support. There is not even a plan in place. All questions were met with an answer of “that will need to be looked at”.

    Overall, there are far too many outstanding questions and issues to move forward with this in a responsible manner for the students. This decision needs to be reviewed. The Lester B Pearson Board needs to be open to a discussion with the very population it serves. The majority of the parent population would like an Early Immersion option in our zone. There is a cost effective way to manage it. It needs to be offered. It’s that simple.

  11. Ms Stein Day is currently under an ethics investigation for her past conduct. Many administrative groups (representing a large number of people) have written letters of complaint as she was spreading salacious rumors about Lester B Pearson employees. She should, at least during this period of investigation, be taken out of office and not making these important decisions that affect so many

    If she is taken out office we will have a better chance of getting these decisions re-reviewed.

    Please take the time to write your commissioner and demand this. They cannot deny this fact. At worst they will play nice and refer you to one common spokesperson. That will prove that the investigation is really under way and once this investigation goes public we will be dealing with a new chair.

    Write your commissioner asking “Is Suanne Stein Day currently being investigated by the ethics commissioner”. See what response you get and if that response will be from your commissioner.

  12. If Suanne Stein Day’s reflect the true feelings of the community why the petition and so many unhappy parents??? I am trying to understand why that community cannot have both? One Francais Plus school in one building and one Immersion school in the other building…..This way the community would have choice…..Furthermore, having kids split in two campuses does not seem to be one that is favoured by many…..I certainly will not be removing my kids from the French board to send them to a split campus school without all the proper resources in place. I sincerely hope that these schools can remain English Immersion.

  13. Since the news surfaced, I have been concerned about the merger of St. Paul and Sherwood Forest. It will be an extreme for many of the Sherwood Forest Students to transition to Francais Plus.

    We have recently moved back to the U.S. and my 2nd grader from Sherwood Forest is now trying to “adjust” to the U.S. Program. For a child that has been taught bilingual since Preschool she is struggling to read at the 2nd grade level. I have made the difficult decision to hold her back to 1st grade because her reading assessment level is below 2nd grade. It will be difficult and frustrating for many students to transition to Francais plus. As it was difficult for my child to transition to English only. If this is implemented be sure that these students receive the help they need, otherwise you are setting them up for failure and they will fall behind.

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