Superintendent Kevin Godden says the Abbotsford School District has hired more French immersion staff amid a shortage, lifting a freeze on new enrolments in the program.                                Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News

Superintendent Kevin Godden says the Abbotsford School District has hired more French immersion staff amid a shortage, lifting a freeze on new enrolments in the program. Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News

Abby Schools

Abbotsford schools boost French immersion teaching staff

New hires come amid province-wide teacher shortage, lifts freeze on new enrolments

The Abbotsford School District has managed “some success” in recruiting French immersion teaching staff, Superintendent Kevin Godden says.

The current school year has been a challenging one for the school district with respect to French immersion staffing, including one class at Sandy Hill Elementary School that was learning in English for a portion of the year due to a teacher leaving for Chilliwack.

Earlier this year, Godden told school board there was an “extraordinary” number of maternity leaves, and as the district scrambled to fill those vacancies, it was questionable whether any new French immersion applications would be accepted.

RELATED: Maternity leaves stall Abbotsford French immersion applications

RELATED: Teacher shortage leaves Abbotsford French immersion class learning in English

Throughout the country, French immersion teachers have been in short supply, in particular in B.C., where a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling restored collective agreement language from the early 2000s on class size and composition, spurring teacher hiring sprees throughout the province.

But Godden now says the district has “had some success in recruiting staff.”

“I won’t say that we are in a position to fully replace the compliment that we had last year [2017-18], but we will have a new class that we’ll be able to enrol at all of the schools in question,” Godden said, referencing Sandy Hill Elementary, Margaret Stenersen Elementary, Centennial Park Elementary, Clearbrook Elementary and Chief Dan George Middle schools.

“I’ll say a big kudos goes out to our HR department in terms of their recruitment to get staff here. So we’ll be able to have a late immersion class. We won’t have two, but having a late immersion class, I think, is fantastic, because that was one of the places we were concerned about.”

Godden added that there will be a kindergarten French immersion class at each of the schools, which he said would keep the program going for new enrolments.

RELATED: Parents skeptical as Abbotsford school fills French immersion vacancy

“Particularly for siblings, because they are siblings with kids already in the program,” he said.

“The parents who are most concerned are the ones who had an older kid in the program and really wanted their second child [in the program], so we will be in a position to be able to do that, which I think is just fantastic.”

Find more of our coverage on the Abbotsford School District here.

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

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