Commission Scolaire de Montreal says it's facing $40M budget shortfall
Published Monday, February 8, 2016 8:40PM EST
La Commission Scolaire de Montreal, the largest French-language school board in Quebec, says it's facing a $40-million budget shortfall this year for maintenance alone.
Parent and teachers are worried, and the CSDM says they're right to be concerned but wants to reassure parents that the schools are structurally sound.
Teachers have shared photographs of parts of their school in disrepair on social media: lots of chipped paint and rust, but also broken toilets, tiles, damaged roofs and condemned staircases.
Initially the school board responded with a statement saying that much of what was seen on the photos had been repaired, but changed its message, saying it needs more money from Quebec. It dedicates almost $100 million per year to maintenance, but says it needs at least another $50 million to do basic work.
Instead, Quebec cut its budget by $40 million last year. Now the school board and parents say it’s time to reinvest.
“Parents right now are not sure they can trust the government and what they're saying. They're saying education is a priority but they are cutting again. This is the problem. Should they be investing more on educational services and so forth? Probably yes. What we want, bottom line; we want a healthy environment for our kids,” said Pascale Grignon of the Je protege mon ecole parents’ movement.
After visiting some of the worst schools last month, former education minister Francois Blais promised more money for maintenance. On Monday, the ministry said reinvestment will be a gradual process, carried out over several years.