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French school shaping up


Although le Conseil Scolaire de Catholique des Aurores Boreales definitely will be setting up a school here in September, a few details still need to be cleared up when the board’s director and school’s principal come to town next week.

“On May 27, we will be holding an admission committee meeting to interview parents who do not have constitutional rights as French-speaking persons,” said Joanne Thibotout-Debnam, director of education for the French board.

Although children of French-speaking parents automatically are allowed to enroll in the school, three or four local parents will have to go through an interview process to see if their children have the right stuff.

Thibotout-Debnam will be accompanied by Sylvianne Moreau, the new principal, who will look over the 10 or so students to attend the school, which will occupy one classroom in St. Francis here.

The school actually is entitled to two classrooms but given the small number of students initially, it will only occupy one for now.

Then on May 28, the pair will meet with Carol Lynne Oldale, director of education for the Northwest Catholic District School Board, to discuss how the two boards will operate with each other.

“I don’t anticipate any problems when dealing with the other board,” Oldale noted. “We’re going to work with them to provide the best for the students—it’s an equitable situation.”

Thibotout-Debnam explained the French board will operate as it has with other boards. “Precedence has been set—we’ve shared resources with other schools before and it’s really a matter of following guidelines,” she noted.

Such an arrangement could include compromises such as slightly shorter gym time for phys. ed. classes.

But Oldale, who used to be a principal at Mother Teresa School, a French-immersion school in Thunder Bay, indicated she was willing to accommodate the French board, which does have the constitutional right to set up a school here.

“I was, and am, willing to hear any parent’s concerns, and am going to meet with staff and go over the agreement with them, explaining the legislative implications,” she noted.

As far as the future goes, feedback—positive or negative—is highly anticipated “There may be some impact on [our] board but we’re not sure exactly what that will be yet,” Oldale admitted.

Before arriving here, Thibotout-Debnam also will be interviewing teachers for the position at the school. She noted the quality they would look most for is “experience.”

A special needs assistant and possibly a French-language monitor also will aid the selected teacher this fall.

The French board, based in Thunder Bay, already has schools in Geraldton, Longlac, and Kenora among other places.

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