An increasingly popular bilingual program has a Saskatoon elementary school at capacity.
St. Frances School has been offering a Cree bilingual program since 2008. Since then it has seen a surge in enrolment, from 100 students to 600, with children bused in from 57 neighbourhoods.
“There’s a sense of belonging here, there’s a strong, vibrant — not just learning — culture, but also Cree culture and language opportunities for the children,” principal Darren Fradette said.
“By the enrolment, and the continually growing enrolment, parents see value in St. Frances for what we offer in the Cree Bilingual program.”
With this boom in its student body, the school has had to add additional classrooms.
“Currently we have added as many portables as we can, without exceeding building restrictions,” Fradette said. “Over half the school’s population is in portables.”
There are now a total of 14 portable and 11 regular classrooms at St. Frances.
The school is working with the Ministry of Education and the community to secure a facility to better accommodate the growth.
“With the facility short comings as they are, which is definitely a drawback, they’re still choosing to send their children here, which I think speaks volumes,” Fradette said.
Space isn’t the only struggle for the school; the principal noted they are always looking to recruit fluent Cree speaking teachers.
Fradette added the school’s staff of 70 people also have only two washrooms to use.