BATHURST (CNB) - All 20 schools in School District 5, L'Étoile du Nord, are now recognized as community schools by the Department of Education.

Education Minister Roland Haché announced today, at École La Cité de l'Amitié in Bathurst, that 17 community schools in this district are being added to the three already designated.

"It is an honour to designate these schools and to make School District 5 the first in New Brunswick and in Canada to consist entirely of community schools," said Haché. "I congratulate the district education council, school district and each of the schools for their dynamism and visionary spirit.

"Thanks to the many partnerships formed, the students, their parents and their communities will now be able to move to the rhythm of New Brunswick's francophone community schools. Our department is very proud to be a partner with School District 5 in this major project."

Close to 6,000 students will gradually benefit from the community schools concept. Mario Pelletier, chair of L'Étoile du Nord, District 5 Education Council, said the announcement is the result of a great deal of collaboration within the entire community.

"Since 2006, there has been a real enthusiasm from the communities and schools in L'Étoile du Nord to adopt the community schools concept," Pelletier said. "As a result of the work of our partners within the community and many partners such as the departments of Education and Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour as well as the Regional Development Corporation, it is possible for us to make this announcement. Today, we officially recognize the importance of opening our schools to their Acadian and francophone communities."

The francophone community school model in New Brunswick is built on an alliance between school staff, parents, students and the community.

The school and its environment form a single educational community dedicated to academic success, identity-building and the overall health of each child. Students are encouraged to become independent, resourceful, enterprising and entrepreneurial as well as actively involved in their community.

École La Croisée in Robertville was the first school in District 5 to become a community school in what was then a pilot project (one school per district).

In 2007, the Department of Education officially designated École La Croisée as well as Carrefour Étudiant in Beresford as community schools. In 2008, Polyvalente Roland-Pépin in Campbellton was added.

With these designations, the francophone sector now has 34 designated community schools, for a total of 69 in New Brunswick.

The objective of the provincial government is to designate 75 community schools as part of the Community Schools Policy under the education plan, When Kids Come First.