The end of this school year is also the end of an era for staff and students at the Philip E. Layton School on Sherbrooke St. W.

After more than a century, the school for children with visual impairments and special needs is moving into a new building -- the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre (MMRC) on Decarie Blvd.

“The move, honestly, I think is a fantastic idea. Having the resources all in one area and being able to share is fantastic, said parent Ann Gagnon.

“Unfortunately I'm concerned about the actual building we're moving in.”

The MMRC owns both the buildings on Decarie and Sherbrooke and is renting out space to the EMSB, where they run Philip E. Layton and the Mackay Center School.

Parents say there are security concerns because children with special needs will be sharing space with adult clients at the MMRC.

When they move into the Decarie location, students from the former school will take up residence on the second floor, while the students at the latter school will be on the third floor.

One multi-purpose room has been a particular source of conflict between the EMSB and the rehab centre.

The school board says the Philip E. Mackay students will use it for “library purposes” while the readaptation centre will use it after school for meetings.

But Valerie Shannon, the president of MMRC’s board of directors says it’s not that simple.

“It's a room that's absolutely critical. We have 100 staff working at the Mackay site in the physical rehabilitation program. That room is used for multiple functions” more than 70 per cent of the time, she said.

The negotiation process is ongoing.

Alexandra Lukacs, whose 12-year-old son William attended the school before he passed away six months ago, says she hopes one day the provincial government will provide funding for a new, more spacious school.

“We're hoping that maybe the education minister will help us out here because we do need a nice new facility for these kids, so that they can flourish, she said.

“It's their second family. It's not just a school, it's their second home.”