EMSB school closures on the agenda
Published Wednesday, March 16, 2011 11:16PM EDT
MONTREAL - The proposed path towards a more streamlined English Montreal School Board was officially released to the public at the council of commissioners meeting Wednesday night.
The complex, 256-page report of the long-term planning committee is a highly-detailed analysis of the board's shifting demographics and how to best use the facilities at the board's disposal.
The committee's findings suggest the school board has too many small schools in the system and that affects the board's cost-effectiveness in a negative way.
The result is a recommendation from the committee to close nine schools in total from a potential group of 11 by July, 2012: St Gabriel or St John Bosco, Our Lady of Pompei or St Dorothy, St Brendan, Fraser Academy, Bancroft, Carlyle, Hampstead, James Lyng High School
Another 11 schools would either be moved or merged: Vezina High School, St Raphael, Programme Mile End, Vincent Massey, Laurier MacDonald Vocational Training Centre Programs for Hairdressing, Electrolysis and Aesthetics, Perspectives II High School, Royal Vale Elementary, Royal Vale High School, Marymount Academy, Marymount Adult Centre and Shadd Business Centre.
However, EMSB chairperson Angela Mancini wanted to stress that these talks are in their infancy, and there is a lot more discussion remaining before any schools are closed, moved or merged.
"Tonight is a preliminary meeting in which we're going to ask questions and try to clarify our own thoughts," she said.
The planning committee report was first leaked to the media over the weekend, and Wednesday evening's meeting was an opportunity for the commissioners to recommend amendments to the proposal.
It also gave parents who may lose their schools a chance to voice their opposition, which is what a group of staff and parents of Our Lady of Pompei Elementary in St-Michel did, all arriving dressed in yellow to show their unity.
"This year our enrollment is 243 and next year it's planned to go up to 255," said the school's vice chair, Ron Lee Latchman. "So seeing that, we were shocked."
The question of enrollment is obviously central to this discussion, and the figures show the number of students in the EMSB has dropped from 24,832 in 2006 to 21,427 this year, a 13.7 per cent decline in five years.
However, when it comes to projected enrollment there is an odd discrepancy between the EMSB's numbers and those produced by the provincial education ministry.
Government numbers project the school board to have 18,293 students by 2026, which would represent a further 14.6 per cent decline, though spread over 15 years.
But the EMSB's projections have 20,864 students enrolled in the system by the 2025-26 school year, a discrepancy of 2,571 with the government numbers and virtually identical to the current enrollment of 20,809.
The 25-member council of commissioners will vote March 30 on whether or not to put the proposal to a public consultation.
EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini says that school closures could be on the agenda soon