Students 'devastated' after EMSB closes three schools
MONTREAL - There were cheers and tears on Thursday following a night in which the English Montreal School Board committee voted to close three elementary schools and keep three other schools open.
The EMSB decided to close St. John Bosco in Ville Emard, Fraser Academy in St. Laurent and St. Brendan in Rosemont at the end of the school year.
Carlyle School in the Town of Mount Royal, Nesbitt Elementary School in Rosemont and James Lyng High School in St. Henri will, however, remain open.
Those whose schools were shut expressed profound sadness.
"My seven-year-old just kept on saying, ‘I can't believe they closed it, I just can't believe they actually closed it,'" said Judith Morabito of the St. Brendan's Board of Governors. "I'm really disappointed.The children came out and they are devastated."
The principal was also dejected for the soon-to-be-displaced kids.
"My worry is that the children who have been very well integrated in our tiny school will not have the same sense of security and closeness that they had here;" said Sylvia Serchuk, St. Brendan's Principal.
Another St. Brendan parent said she might relocate because of the closure.
"I'm sad and I'm worried because this means us moving to probably the West Island because I'm not going to settle for anything less than the best for my son," said Maria Santamaria.
Parents at St. John Bosco weren't thrilled either.
"I'm very sad I feel like I'm in mourning right now," said parent Stella de Gaetano, whose child will soon no longer attend the St. John Bosco School.
That school's principal said that the sadness was shared by many.
"St. John Bosco School is truly a community and the families and parents are together and they were very sad," said Principal Katherine Snow.
The board also decided that Royal Vale High School will not relocate to Cote St. Luc.
It was an especially wrenching night for parents and students at Carlyle School.
Originally the committee voted to close the school, despite a recommendation from the EMSB's long term planning committee to keep it open. But in a second vote the committee backtracked on that decision and decided to keep it open.
More closures could be on the way
The EMSB says that schools needed to be closed because of declining enrollment. The number of students has shrunk by more than 6,000 over the past decade.
A decade ago the board had about 27,000 students; it now has around 20,000 and is forecast to drop to around 18,000 in three years.
Angela Mancini, the school board's chairperson, said the closures that were voted on Wednesday came about after a long process and "many nights of consultation."
She warned that further closures could be inevitable, given the drop in students. "We'll have to look in the near future or in a couple of years at other closures possibly," she said.
Despite its difficulties, Mancini said the English school board remains relevant and a good choice for many students, given that they get an education in both French and English.
Saved schools celebrate
Those associated with schools that narrowly avoided closure were in a more upbeat mood Thursday.
Michael Applebaum, mayor of Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, praised the decision to keep Royal Vale in the borough.
"This favourable verdict is important for our young families and we wish to thank the parents of the students for their unfailing support over the past several months," he said in a statement.
Those at Carlyle felt buoyant as well, where a future international school curriculum has long been planned.
"Thanks to the commissioners for allowing this to happen, cheers!," said Principal Anna-Maria Borsellino of Carlyle School.
One child whose school avoided the axe spoke for many of the children whose schools were spared.
"When I was at home in the morning I'm like, I'm sure we're going to have a party at school today!" said Sophie, a student at Nesbitt.