French board to discuss closing school here

The local French Catholic school board will hold a meeting here later this month to talk to parents about closing its school in Fort Frances.
Classes put on by the Conseil scolaire de district catholique des Aurores boréales have been suspended since the 2004-05 school year due to a lack of students.
The purpose of the public consultation is to see if there are any objections among stakeholders, board spokesperson Carol-Ann van Rassel said.
“It’s one of the steps in closing that school,” she noted.
In the past, the board had offered classes from junior kindergarten to Grade 8 in rooms at St. Francis School.
“In order to be functional, we’ve pretty much found that 20 [students] seems to be the magic number to have enough to have two classrooms,” van Rassel said.
The CSDC des Aurores boréales is a French First Language system, which is different from an English system that offers French Immersion, she explained.
“In an immersion system, the purpose is to learn a second language,” van Rassel said, adding the purpose of a French-language board is to offer education in French to people of Francophone ancestry.
In order to be eligible to attend a French-language school, the student must have at least one parent whose first language learned—and still understood—is French, or at least one parent who received their primary school instruction in Canada in French.
A student also is eligible if they have a sibling who has attended a French-language school.
This is according to Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which constitutionally guarantees minority language education rights to French speakers outside of Quebec.
All subjects—including math, science, and geography—are taught in French, van Rassel noted. In Grade 4, students begin studying English, but they are quick to catch up to their counterparts in the English system.
“By the time they graduate from Grade 8 in our school system, their English is at the same level, pretty much,” van Rassel said.
Concerned parents are invited to attend the public consultation at La Place Rendez-Vous on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. The discussion will be held in French.
CSDC des Aurores boréales has its main office in Thunder Bay, where it has an elementary and a secondary school. The board also has elementary schools in Geraldton, Longlac, Marathon, Nakina, and Terrace Bay.

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