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The recent decision to reopen Tytler as a French Immersion school to ease enrolment pressures at Edward Johnson may leave Ward residents with mixed emotions. Having hugged goodbye to their beloved neighbourhood school in 2013 I’m sure there were some smiling faces when it was announced that Tytler would reopen.
However, that smile may have been short lived. Although Ward residents may have their school back, it won’t be for their use. Children who live across the street will still have to find their way to King George, Edward Johnson or Lemon.
Although it may seem counter intuitive to have to bus, drive or walk a significant distance when an open school is throwing distance away, the board decision is probably still the right one.
The reopening is still an interim step. Children who will be going to Tytler (East of Victoria and South of Speedvale) will eventually move to a new school being built in Guelph’s East End. So Tytler’s future is still to be closed, meaning residents would have to relive the closure again in a few short years.
The reality is that parents and children in the Ward community have seen enough disruption over the past few years and by having their children remain in a single school for the long term will create some consistency and stability that many families have lacked in recent times.
The board voted to align bus boundaries across age groups for the upcoming school year.
This change will particularly help parents who have different aged children in multiple elementary schools.
Recent changes to French Immersion boundaries have seen the board cap grades in neighborhood schools, sending more senior grades to F.I centres such as King George.
The challenges for parents with children in Junior elementary school grades K-3 and having a Sr. elementary child in grades 4-6 was that the boundary dimensions were inconsistent. Parents who did not drive, or wish to drive, opting for greener and healthier options to have their children to get to school, were not given much of a choice. In some instances the walk between schools were greater than 40 mins.
This made walking both children to school near impossible to make bell times. Suggested routes took children through busy streets, through train tracks and poorly lit downtown parks which would be dark in the shorten hours of the winter. Children aged 8 would be expected to make this trek daily and understandably parents were concerned, especially if unable to supervise the walk. Some parents have been creative creating a ‘community bus’ to ensure child safety, but others have opted to remove their children from immersion programs for a variety of reasons whether it is to remain in a community school, keep their children together, safety concerns, or other reasons.
The change by the board will help parents get their children to school under the revised school boundaries making the Immersion programs more accessible to all.