School Changes and Registration
Residents of the area got some good news with the announcement that a new elementary school would finally be built in St. Lazare. It will be located east of the library and the community centre and is scheduled for completion in 2006.
The new school will be built to be as energy-efficient as possible, modelled on the Ecole du Tournant in St. Constant. Key features of that school are ground-source heat pumps which use heat from the ground to heat the building and solar panels for solar heating. With the heat pumps in place, the school will also be air-conditioned.
Residents wonder whether this sudden approval of the new school might have something to do with the planned opening of a new private school in the area. The school would be one of a network of private "Vision" schools and it has generated a lot of interest locally. The final decision depends on whether the required 150 registrations will be confirmed this month. Organizer Michelle Vroom is optimistic. The school concentrates on linguistics and students are fluent in three languages when they finish Grade 6. School fees will be $6000.00 per year which is in line with private schools downtown. If the elementary school goes ahead, the next step will be a private "Vision" high school and parents who can afford it could finally be free from the capricious decisions of the public shcool board.
The only parents who aren't happy with the new schools are those who, for various reasons, don't want their children in French immersion. All kids get French instruction but many are in the "bilingual" program rather than the "immersion" program and, with the new school, the number of "immersion" places will be increased. Parents who want to stay in a particular program may have to switch schools.
The situation will be clearer after school registartion is complete later this month. Most school are holding registration this week and many require an appointment so parents are urged to phone first. For those who want to ensure that their kids come out of elementary school speaking fluent French or who want to avoid the growing pains evident in the English system, the St. Thomas school in Hudson has always welcomed English-speaking students with open arms and has an excellent reputation.