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New K-12 French school one suggestion at Cape St. George consultation

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Joseph Benoit, a former educator on the Port au Port Peninsula, believes the French school board has dropped the ball big time on the issue of the French school in Cape St. George.

Conseil scolaire francophone provincial de Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador (French school board for the province) held a public consultation last week in Cape St. George on the possibility of combining Notre-Dame-du-Cap (the French language school in the town) and Our Lady of the Cape (the English school in the town).

To Benoit, consulting with parents of both schools was a major faux pas. He said if there is an issue with a school you meet with the parents of that school first and look at the No. 1 option first instead putting a third option out there of combining schools.

He said to his understanding the issue deals with the gymnasium in the French school being too small and needing floor repairs.

“To me, the issue should be what’s best for the students in the school and to get at that you can’t take the parents of that school particular school out of the equation,” Benoit said.

He’s concerned because he has four grandchildren in the school and his involvement in education in the town goes back to when French First Language was first lobbied for and attained back in the late 1980’s.

Prior to that there was a French Immersion program in the town that he said wasn’t working.

Now students have the option to go right through secondary school in French as they can attend the French school in Mainland for high school.

Kim Christianson, director of education with the Conseil scolaire francophone provincial de Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador, said there is nothing in stone of what will happen in Cape St. George.

She said the community consultation was simply to garner information from parents in the community to what ideas they might have. That information is now being brought back to the board of directors of the French school board.

Christianson said combining the English and French schools was only one of the possible options presented at the meeting that evening.

She confirmed the size of the gym and repairs to the gym floor at an extensive cost to make it adequate are major concerns.

Christianson said it was good to have more than 60 people attending the meeting to bring their ideas and thoughts together.

“I think it was a positive discussion that captured their concerns and put forward solutions as options,” she said.

One of them was looking at sharing the gym Our Lady of the Cape with the English School Board, while another was to request a new K-12 school, another to repair the gym and keep it for Kindergarten to Grade 6 and have an agreement with the English School Board for Grades 7 and 8.

She said the board is committed to keeping French First Language in the community and improving the infrastructure to try and increase enrollment.

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