EMSB members vote to transfer Galileo building to French system
Published Tuesday, May 21, 2019 8:42PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 22, 2019 11:19AM EDT
After weeks of tension, the English Montreal School Board council has voted to transfer the Galileo Adult Education Centre building to the French school system.
The board voted Tuesday night in a meeting, where eight members voted in favour of the transfer, three against and one abstained.
EMSB chair Angela Mancini voted against the transfer, while vice-chair Joe Ortona was in favour.
The building in Montreal North is home to several adult education programs, including one for 140 people with special needs.
The vote comes as Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge gave the board 30 days to decide how best to meet the demand of overcrowded schools in the French system.
Roberge has been vocally against the EMSB's proposal to transfer the Galileo Adult Ed Centre, saying he feels the adults with special needs are too "vulnerable" to move to another building, and so he has suggested moving anglophone children out of three different schools in eastern Montreal.
That proposal has been met with protests by parents who want to save their kids' schools.
Many members of the EMSB say the move of special needs students would not necessarily be disruptive, and point to the move of special needs students at the MAB Mackay Centre in Cote des Neiges-Notre Dame de Grace in 2018 as an example.
The French board, Commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l'île, has said it does not want the Galileo building because it would not meet its needs, but Ortona has argued that freeing up Galileo would create almost as much space as transferring the three other schools in question.
Roberge makes the ultimate decision on June 10, and has the right to throw out the EMSB’s plan if he so chooses.
Mancini said on Tuesday she voted against the transfer of Galileo because Roberge has already stated he would not move students from that school and therefore the board needed to determine a solution he would approve of.
"I am hoping that the minister will listen to the parents who are speaking loud and clear, that they are willing to help out," she said.
"There are governing boards and general assemblies being held. I am hearing that parents are interested in cohabitation. I am pleading that the minister will listen to the parents and look at cohabitation as a model.
Ortona, however, said that Mancini needs to argue the case for the Galileo transfer more vigorously against the education minister.
He also said that the process has been thoroughly studied.
"We are offering CSPI the most possible space in one location, which is more than what they would be getting in those three schools," he said.
"We wouldn't be moving these kids if we didn't have a sound, well thought out plan."