EMSB closings looming for 2012-13
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 14 avril 2011
Emotions ran high among parents who attended a two-part meeting of the English Montreal School Board to discuss possible school closings, and the relocation and mergers of others. However, EMSB commissioners stressed that no final decisions will be made until January 2012, and then only after public consultations in December.
In a bid to reorganize the network for the 2012-13 school year, the EMSB is considering axing seven of its schools. Enrollments have been steadily declining over the past ten years and the long-range planning committee acknowledges that the board wants to cut costs.
Parents whose children’s schools have been slated for closure will have until November to submit proposals explaining why their schools should remain open.
Royal Vale High School in NDG is one of the schools up for closure. The EMSB is looking at relocating its student population to the former Wager building in Côte St-Luc.
The fate of Carlyle School in the Town of Mount Royal is also up for grabs. Their students may be moved to Coronation School in Côte-des-Neiges.
Last week commissioners took Carlyle off the list. Then, in a surprising about-face, it put it back on, after commissioner Agostino Cannavino raised a motion to reconsider the previous vote, saying that he had new and pertinent information.
Amid speculation that the EMSB may be planning to close some of their schools and give them to the Commission Scolaire de Montréal, which has higher enrollment, parents are being proactive.
The most high-profile group of parents has been the Nesbitt School Coalition from Rosemont. They launched a media blitz to save their school. But their school is still not safe, despite the fact that they garnered four thousand signatures on a petition to keep it open.
Judy Yankowski, the chairman of Nesbitt School and a former NDG police officer, questioned how their school, with more students, could even be considered for closing. “Nesbitt is a model school and pioneered French immersion thirty years ago,” she said.
According to Linda Perez, Chairman of the Central Parents Committee, one reason may be that the EMSB doesn’t consider Nesbitt to be a true community school. “Schools often have to bus in children from other neighborhoods in order to boost enrollment,” she said.
Many parents feel that while the EMSB may be doing what is good for the system, it isn’t necessarily good for students. Another flashpoint concerns proposed changes to program boundaries.
Currently schools have distinct territorial boundaries that overlap the boundaries for the language of instruction in one of three programs: core English; bilingual education; and French immersion.
Parent activists said that remapping the boundaries may affect access to busing for their children. But Michael Cohen, a spokesperson for the EMSB, disagreed. “It’s all about parental choice,” he said.
[ Deborah Rankin ]