EMSB deeply disappointed with decision to transfer two schools to CSPI
English Montreal School Board (EMSB) Chairman Angela Mancini is deeply disappointed with the decision by Quebec Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge’s to transfer two school buildings – John Paul I Junior High and General Vanier in St. Léonard – to the Commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Ile (CSPI). Gerald McShane Elementary School in Montreal North will not be transferred.
As requested by the Minister, a copy of the letter explaining his decision has been transmitted to parents and staff of the three schools.
Ms. Mancini has announced that a Town Hall meeting only for parents, administrators and Governing Board members from John Paul I and General Vanier will take place next Tuesday evening, July 2 at Laurier Macdonald High School in St. Léonard. At that meeting, a contingency plan will be presented.
“We are very disappointed with this news and have done everything possible to save these school buildings,” stated Ms. Mancini. “We will now review all recourses available to us.”
On June 26 the EMSB announced a Major School Change proposal, with the goal of reviewing and consolidating EMSB schools to avoid the need for forced transfers by the Minister.
A copy of the letter is below:
Dear parents of the English Montreal School Board,
The last few months have been intense and stressful for the parents and students of the English
Montreal School Board (EMSB). Lots of negotiations have happened and lots of information has been leaked. This has contributed to a state of confusion, which is why I am committing to better communicate with the English community henceforth. It is in that spirit, and because communication has not been easy throughout this process that I feel the need to contact you directly.
Our government has had to make a hard decision. Commission scolaire de la Pointe de-l'Ile (CSPI) schools are bursting at the seams. Students are being denied facilities that every child should have in their schools--libraries, resource rooms, and computer rooms to accommodate the influx of new students into the board. CSPI has had no choice but to reorganize its school population, turn music and English classrooms and teacher's rooms into extra classrooms, and even retrofit a business resource centre to accommodate the next school year.
Our government has also taken action. Last week, we announced that 39 new schools would be built across Montreal to alleviate overcrowding. For this year only, we are allowing almost four times more expansion projects and new schools on the Island of Montreal than under previous governments. Undoubtedly, these major projects will help prevent overcrowding in the future.
The current situation has left our government with no choice but to transfer General Vanier and
John Paul I schools to the CSPI this summer. In the interest of all concerned, we cannot abdicate our responsibilities by asking CSPI students to stay home until new schools are built. Under the
Education Act, we are legally required to provide every child with an education, whether they are English speaking or francophone.
Gerald McShane School, on the other hand, will not be transferred as it is the only elementary
school in Montreal-Nord.
I have read your letters, I have met with some of you who are affected by these
measures, and I have listened to your concerns. I myself am a father, and I understand your unease at the idea of having to change schools in such a short time. I am touched by your emotion and dedication, and I absolutely want to prevent any similar crisis in the future.
We can all agree that empty classrooms benefit no one, and that we would all gain from a full review of the EMSB's real estate assets. Among other things, this would allow us to identify sectors where the English community is actually growing. In such a case, I can assure you that our government will be an ally and will act accordingly.
The English community deserves to be part of this process. We welcome the EMSB's decision to launch a six-month public consultation and hope they will see it through so that this kind of crisis never happens again.
Our government has committed to supporting the EMSB with significant funding to ensure that the transition for your children, for our teachers, and for all school staff who may be affected by
this decision proceeds as smoothly as possible.
Minister of Education and Higher Education