The RPCA wishes to bring to your attention an important matter related to education within the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB). The Board is conducting an Elementary School Program Framework Consultation which will set future policy direction for elementary education within the Board. The resultant policy will support a further OCDSB review of Alta Vista area schools to be carried out from spring 2017. This latter review will, amongst other things, address potential school closures.

We encourage you to read the framework report and provide the OCDSB with your comments. Click here for details about the consultation process. Your comments on the framework review can be submitted via email. Note the deadline for survey submission is 21 Dec.

We feel there are two specific areas of the framework which warrant comment from residents of our community:

1) The framework document proposes an optimal size for elementary schools. The optimal number of students in any elementary school may vary depending on the number and nature of the programs located in that school, including district or specialized programs. To ensure adequate flexibility for student placement and allow for teacher collaboration, the district aims to have approximately one-and-a-half classes per grade level per program offered in elementary schools. As current enrollment levels at many schools fall short of this optimal level, the viability of those schools could face increased scrutiny should the proposed text be accepted.

2) Current policy does not allow French language immersion to be offered at Alternative schools, such as our Riverview school. The framework consultation presents an opportunity to alter policy so as to allow immersion to be introduced by the Board at a later time at any Alternative school location.

Simply for convenience sake below is suggested text which you can consider delivering to the OCDSB via the survey or email:

In section 3.2 of the Framework report, related to school size, I suggest you replace the wording “…the district aims to have…” with “..the desired approach is to have…”. As currently written there is a risk that the threshold size being proposed will be interpreted as a policy imperative rather than a desirable target or guide to optimal school sizes. Furthermore in the event of significant deviation from the desired target, the framework policy should formally acknowledge the Board’s obligation to investigate why the deviation exists (e.g. boundary issues, school reputation, unappealing program choices, demographic shifts) and identify whether there is substantive reason to believe corrective action is possible.

Within Section 3.4d of the report, I suggest that French language immersion be added as a potential option for Alternative schools. Immersion is increasingly a default option of choice across the District and it should not continue to be automatically denied to the Alternative program by policy dictate. Additionally, given that children in kindergarten in Alternative schools are exposed to bilingual education, it seems counter-intuitive to automatically deny them the opportunity to continue on that educational path within their program of choice. Allowing immersion as a policy option does not guaranty the assignment of that program to any specific school but it does allow for the choice to be made should circumstances warrant.