MONTREAL--English Montreal School Board students stand to gain from over $1 million worth of new scholarships next spring when art collected by the old Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal (PSBGM) goes up for auction.

The PSBGM, which merged with the local English Catholic school board to form the English Montreal School Board (EMSB), accumulated the paintings throughout the years and saw them rise in value with time.

The EMSB aims to use those proceeds to award scholarships to students entering post-secondary education, not unlike the $500 scholarships it previously awarded from cash raised by its now-defunct annual golf tournament.

Some have expressed opposition to the sell-off, including EMSB Commissioner Julien Feldman, who would like more consultation before deciding the fate of the paintings.

But the EMSB notes that it doesn't own the paintings, which the PSBGM transferred to a special foundation in 1980 and are now administered by that separate body.

The collection was evaluated at $1,039,879 in 2002 and includes about a dozen contributions from Group of Seven founding member A.Y. Jackson as well as others by Adam Sherriff Scott, Anne Savage, George Horne Russell, Harold Beament, Lorne Holland Bouchard, Thoreau MacDonald, Frederick Simpson Coburn, Douglas Lawley, John Little and Richard Short.

One insider noted that the collection could now be worth as much as $2 million.

A decade ago, a group of parents urged that the artwork be sold to help tackle EMSB debt and help keep schools open, but no decision was made at the time.

The paintings have been kept in various places throughout school board, including several that long adorned the walls of the EMSB headquarters on Fielding.