There were more school district representatives than parents at an open house Tuesday that showed Westbank parents where their kids may have to attend school next year.

If the Ministry of Education approves, George Pringle Elementary School will be closed and a new high school built on the downtown site. French immersion and English-language students currently at Pringle will have to move to other schools.

The closure of Pringle will leave downtown West Kelowna without an elementary school. Westbank Elementary, located where the water park is today, served the community when George Pringle was a high school.

“There’s no way we can pretend this is the perfect scenario,” said Moyra Baxter, board chair. “We know that it’s going to be difficult for some of the families. We’re going to do our best to make it as easy as possible.”

Students in Pringle’s English program will be bused to the re-opened Webber Road school in Glenrosa.

There are concerns about students who walk to Pringle because their parents don’t have vehicles and whether their families could afford a bus pass.

French immersion is an optional program, so students have to find their own way to class.

The district is contemplating sending half of the immersion students, or the ones who want to go, to Glenrosa Elementary, with the rest going to Hudson Road, closer to the bridge

Andy Walsh, whose daughter is in Grade 1 French immersion, is concerned about the decimation of the program if it is spilt.

“My daughter has actually cried herself to sleep four out of seven nights last week because she’s so worried about her friends being separated,” said Walsh.

Her daughter is building relationships with others in after-school care in the Glenrosa area and staying in that family of schools is important to Walsh.

Kim Doyle, who has three children in French immersion at Pringle, wants her children to go to Hudson Road.

For Doyle, it would be easier to drop her children off on the way to work than drive to Glenrosa.

Lack of accessibility to the French immersion program in Glenrosa could also force parents to move children into English programs at already-crowded schools in their catchment areas, she noted.

Doyle believes it’s short-sighted not to split the program so it can continue to grow.

“We’re wasting time going back and forth about which is better, when we could be figuring out how we can could do this,” she said.

As for the poor attendance at the session, Baxter said the George Pringle parents had already been vocal about their views while trustee Julia Fraser thought a more accessible location such as George Pringle might have brought more people.

Some have already filled out the school board’s online survey.

“The surveys are where we got a lot of feedback,” said Keven Kaardal, the school board superintendent. “We’re going to have to think about some things.”

An online survey can be found at

Baxter said the board will make the final decision probably at the beginning of January as school registration begins in February.