With kids back in school, EMSB parents still being charged extra fees
Published Tuesday, August 28, 2018 2:49PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 29, 2018 7:32AM EDT
Back to school means arranging carpools and after-school activities for some parents, but for others whose children attend English Montreal School Board facilities, it also means extra fees.
Earlier this year, 16 of Quebec’s school boards agreed to pay back $150 million to parents after a class-action lawsuit alleged that fees violated the Education Act, which states that public elementary and high school in the province must be free.
The court ordered the boards to pay parents back $28 per student, per year they were enrolled.
But on Tuesday, as children ran around the playground at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School in Rosemont, several parents said they not only hadn’t received cheques, but were still being charged the fees.
Claudia Arduini, who has a daughter in fifth grade, said she was required to pay $90 in fees.
“It’s a struggle. I’m a stay at home mom, we only have one salary coming in and I have two kids, I have a child in high school and she pays less than my younger daughter,” she said. “It’s definitely not free.”
EMSB chair Angela Mancini said eliminating the fees would be a major setback for school budgets.
“If the government were to give us money, we’d be able to fund more of the supplies they need. At this point, that’s not a possibility for us,” she said. “That’s been a discussion from the beginning we the government, to say they need to be a bit clearer and under the education act, what is free education or tuition. There is a big debate on that.”
Not every parent is distraught at paying the fees. Sonia Mitchell called the fees “reasonable.”
“They’re putting some of the cost on the families, paying for extra books and so forth. You can get some of those things at the dollar store, they’re not asking for expensive things and it gives the school more opportunity to spend the money for the students, whether it be activities or programs or upkeep the facilities.”