English school boards worried about budget cuts
Both the EMSB and Lester B Pearson are worried about the impact of as-yet unclear, but upcoming budget cuts.
The cuts are coming, and English school boards say they will bear the brunt of most of them.
The education minister says nothing is set in stone, but the Lester B. Pearson School Board says it faces $1.6 million in cuts in non-teaching staff alone.
The board says it must cut $1,125 for every member of its non-teaching staff.
“We can't actually take that money away from our employees nor would we want to, it's contracted, it's in the same collective agreements that this same government signed with them, but we have to find $1.6 million elsewhere,” said chairman Suanne Stein Day.
Stein Day also says the government will not fund the maintenance of schools that are less than 50 per cent occupied and within 20 kilometres of another school.
The Lester B. Pearson school board has six schools that fit that description. They are:
- Lakeside Academy High School
- Lindsay Place High School
- Riverdale High School
- Springdale Elementary
- Thorndale Elementary
- Verdun Elementary
But stein day says some, like Verdun Elementary, service under-privileged areas.
The English Montreal School Board has five elementary schools with low occupancy:
- Gerald McShane: 36%
- Dalkeith: 34%
- St. Dorothy (shares its building with the French school board): 36%
- Coronation: 31%
- General Vanier: 45%
And preliminary figures for EMSB high schools with less than 50 per cent occupancyare as following:
- John Grant High School (share space with an adult centre): 32%
- John F. Kennedy High (share space with an adult centre): 24%
- Rosemount High (share space with a vocational centre): 36%
- Marymount Academy International: 39%
- James Lyng High School (share space with an adult centre): 30%
- Royal Vale High School (share space with an elementary school and trades division): 28%
It's unclear how the ministry will count the students who attend schools that share space with other institutions.
“I'm hoping that this is not the first step to: 'well, if we're not funding these buildings you need to keep trying to close schools and then having to transfer them onto the French sector,” said EMSB chairman Angela Mancini.
Education Minister Francois Blais said earlier this week the objective is not to close schools but to identify which ones are under-occupied and how to save money.
Stein Day says her board needs more clarification from the ministry before it can prepare its final budget.
“The rules are not clear, they're very vague, we've asked a lot of questions we don't yet have the answers,” she said.