B.C. school district advertising for studentsMarch 12, 2014
It’s unusual for a public school district to spend money on high-profile advertising to recruit students. But that’s what happened last month when the Conseil Scolaire Francophone (CSF) purchased ads in the mainstream media to promote its schools.
The campaign included radio/TV advertisements and a prominent display on A3 of the Vancouver Sun announcing that CSF doors are open for students interested in “a true francophone education” (as opposed to French immersion, presumably).
The ad listed contact numbers for 10 schools in the Lower Mainland and promised “free transportation, exceptional public education, high school specialisation programs, computers for all (and) early childhood services.”
What makes this campaign even more unusual is its timing. The CSF, also known as School District 93, has been in B.C. Supreme Court for weeks arguing that the province has underfunded its schools in violation of the constitution. The case continues.
The district is seeking $350 million to build 21 new schools, arguing that better education facilities are imperative for the survival of the French minority in this province. Reports from Radio Canada journalist Benoit Ferradini indicate that CSF has already spent millions on legal fees in a case that’s expected to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Ferradini, who has been covering the trial, reported recently that CSF expects to spend nearly $4 million this year on the lawsuit, in addition to $2 million each year in 2012-13 and 2011-12 and $700,000 in 2010-11. That brings the total thus far to almost $9 million.
Of course, the province has lawyered up too, with all money coming from the public purse.
The CSF has accused the province of breaching the constitutional rights of francophones to education services equivalent to those of anglophones. It argues that francophone students are increasingly opting for English schools because francophone schools are crowded, dilapidated and not easily accessible in some parts of the province.
CSF has 5,000-plus students in 38 schools around the province and received about $64 million in operating funds from the province this year. It says enrolment is growing and last spring, it relaxed its policies in order to enrol more students than ever before.
Hence, the advertising campaign.
Previously, CSF schools accepted only students whose right to a francophone education is protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Now, the district will consider enrolling students of immigrants who speak French, those who have one parent fluent in the language and children who have one francophone grandparent. (Full details can be found here.)
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and the information presented here does not represent in any way the views of the organization.