A school swap in Hay River may yet be in the cards, but no decisions have been made, according to a statement released in December by the Department of Education, Culture and Employment.
“As a father myself, I understand families must ensure their children have the best access to a full, quality education and that objective will not be compromised,” said Jackson Lafferty, the minister for the department, in the statement. “Discussions have been very preliminary to date and we are a long way from making final decisions.”
A potential plan to swap students between the French-language Ecole Boreale and the English-language Harry Camsell School buildings came to light in December, although a representative of the Hay River District Education Authority said at the time that negotiations had begun in early fall.
The GNWT proposed the move as a way to comply with a 2012 court ruling granting Ecole Boreale and Ecole Allain Saint-Cyr in Yellowknife more space – including gyms. The GNWT appealed the ruling and no construction has yet begun at either school.
According to the GNWT’s statement, the appeal is set for March 2014, and the schools have been sharing gym space at other schools in the meantime.
The GNWT claims the options brought up in “exploratory discussions” included new construction, renovation, schools sharing facilities and exchanging schools between the South Slave Divisional Education Council and the Commission Scolaire Francophone (CSF).
“The partners discussed GNWT proposals which could meet the requirements of the court order and use the existing schools more efficiently in both communities,” the statement reads.
Lafferty was also quoted in the statement as saying that providing children with the best education possible continues to be a priority.
“Successfully meeting that commitment means working with all our partners to identify the right approaches to delivering high-quality educational opportunities to our children and youth that respect their needs and rights while making the best use of existing educational facilities and ensuring good management of taxpayer money,” he said.
Suzette Montreuil, president of the CSF, said the groups involved have yet to come to an official decision.
“If there were to be an arrangement, it would first be brought to the parents of students at Ecole Boreale,” she told The Hub.