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Many French language schools are running out of space

IJL – Press Network – Acadie Nouvelle

Space is becoming increasingly scarce in some French schools in New Brunswick. The increase in enrollment is largely responsible for this new challenge that education departments must deal with.

At a recent public meeting of the Board of Education of the Francophone Northwest School District, Luc Caron, Director General of DSFNO, recommended that CÉD members assess the possibility of adding Carrefour de la jeunesse in Edmundston to their schools. List of capital projects to be implemented in 2024-2025.

“There has been an increase in enrolment at this school over the past few years. This year especially, we have a lot of newcomers settling into the surrounding communities.”

Carrefour de la jeunesse is a relatively new school built in 2005.

According to DSFNO’s Director of Strategic Relations, Julie Poulin, the school has resorted to using mobile classrooms. Currently, she has two, but only one is being used.

According to Ms. Pauline, this serves as room for some of the specialists who are not established in the school, such as speech therapists and occupational therapists, who must meet with the students.

If the trend continues, the number of registrations may increase in 2023-2024. Between April 25, 2022, and September 30, 2023, the number of students enrolled in this school increased from 336 to 365.

In the Northwest, other schools have to live with a lack of space. According to Julie Bolin, Notre Dame School, located in Edmundston, has been on a tightrope for several years.

In fact, from April 25, 2022, to September 30, 2023, the number of students at this school increased from 369 to 378. In December 2022, a new Grade 7 class was created, as well as a Grade 1 class in January 2023.

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Currently, the library is installed in a trailer (mobile classroom). Unfortunately, the space available on the ground makes it difficult to install new mobile classrooms.

Saint-Basile Regional School must also live with this kind of challenge. Even if its population appears stable at this school at the moment (298 students, April 25, 2022, compared to 299 students in September 2023), there are still three mobile classrooms being used, two for fifth grade classes and one for teaching resources.

“At the École Notre-Dame and the École Régionale Saint-Basile, there is no room specially reserved for the professionals who are not established in these schools and who must meet with the students.”

The south is a victim of its own demographic growth

Even if its leaders say they are proud to have noted a sharp increase in enrollment this year, the scolaire scolaire francophone Sud still has to deal with the inconveniences caused by this trend.

The 38 DSF-S schools welcome more than 16,300 students, which is an increase of 839 students since September 2021 and an increase of nearly 1,200 since September 2019.

According to Jean-Luc Theriault, acting director of strategic relations for the French scolaire region in southern France, the Moncton region is experiencing the strongest growth.

Moncton schools currently welcome 4,319 students, or 434 more than at the start of the 2021 school year. Fredericton and St. Jean’s schools welcome 3,132 students, or 154 more than at the start of the 2021 school year.

The huge influx of newcomers is one of the main reasons cited by Dubai Shopping Festival-S. Schools in the region welcomed 785 more pupils with an immigrant background than last year.

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“Additional premises are necessary,” answered Mr. Theriault, “in order to offer them personal services, in particular, in terms of excellence and integration.”

With this in mind, the scolaire francophone Sud feels it is increasingly necessary to expand existing schools or build new ones, particularly in the regions of Moncton, Fredericton and Saint-Jean.

The opening of Claudette Bradshaw’s school in Moncton in September, according to Mr. Theriault, should free up some space in area schools, even if it doesn’t solve all the problems.

“The exponential increase in new enrollments in our schools creates challenges. We have had to add additional classroom resources in some schools as there is not necessarily space left for new classes.

Schools such as Saint-Henri in Moncton, Mathieu-Martin in Dieppe, Sainte-Anne in Fredericton and the scolaire Samuel-de-Champlain in Saint-Jean all face challenges related to a lack of space.

“For example, at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, the Saint-Henri school had approximately 314 students. It has now reached 432 and this number continues to increase from week to week, ”added Jean-Luc Theriault.

In the short term, mobile classes should be added to the Saint-Henri School, the Samuel-de-Champlain School Center and the Sainte-Anne School.

Don’t worry in the northeast

The scolaire francophone du Nord-Est does not expect a significant increase in the number of students in the short term, even if it is recognized that some school communities are overcrowded in their buildings.

According to Brigitte Couturier, responsible for communications and strategic relations at DSFNE, it is the state of the school’s infrastructures that poses a problem above all.

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“Our outdated facilities are not always appropriate for current teaching methods.”

It should be noted that Boards of Education must annually submit to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development a list of priority projects in their area.

The Ministry then decides which projects to implement/finance by evaluating them using a decision matrix that includes a series of predefined criteria.