|EMSB PROPOSES SIX SCHOOL CLOSURES AND RELOCATION OF ADULT AND OUTREACH CENTRES|
MONTREAL, AUGUST 25, 2004- The Long Range Planning Committee of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is recommending the closure of four elementary schools, two high schools and the relocation of two adult centres and three outreach high schools for the 2005-2006 academic year.
At the August 25, 2004 meeting of the EMSB Council of Commissioners, these recommendations were approved for consultation. The governing boards for each school and centre affected will be given the opportunity to present briefs at hearings scheduled to take place on Mon. December 6, 2004. A final vote on the proposals will occur at a special meeting on Wed. January 19, 2005. This means that schools and centres have an additional month to prepare themselves compared to previous timelines established by the EMSB for proposed major school change.
Elementary schools being considered for closure are: St. Ignatius of Loyola in N.D.G., St. Gabriel in Pointe St. Charles, St. Patrick in the Plateau and McLearon in Pointe aux Trembles. Another recommendation deals with the core English program being phased out at Roslyn in Westmount to allow for growth in its French immersion program. High schools proposed are: St. Pius X in Ahuntsic and Wagar in Côte Saint-Luc. A recommendation to consider James Lyng High School in St. Henri was rejected by the Council. For the adult sector, it is being recommended that the High School of Montreal, presently based in St. Michel, move to the St. Patrick facility where it was previously located and that the Marymount Adult Centre relocate to the Wagar building. Finally, it is being proposed that Perspectives I and II in Montreal North take up residence in St. Michel where the High School of Montreal is now and for Program Mile End to move from rented quarters on De L’Épee Street in Park Extension to the St. Patrick building. The latter two are part of the Outreach network, which is designed for students who have not reached their potential in traditional high school settings.
An extensive demographic study of the EMSB network was prepared by the Long Range Planning Committee last winter. The results were shared with the Council of Commissioners and representatives of all governing boards at workshops in the spring, with data clearly demonstrating how the EMSB is operating too many facilities in the youth sector. Meanwhile, it was also concluded that the adult sector requires additional space in order to offer the programs needed by its students.
Since the last series of major school changes adopted in 2001-2002, which involved the merger of Sir Wilfrid Laurier Junior High School with Lester B. Pearson High School in Montreal North and the closure of Nazareth Elementary School in the Plateau, the EMSB has experienced a sharp decline in enrolment of more than 1,000 students at the primary level. This is due to a variety of reasons, including a declining birth rate, families with children moving out of the EMSB territory and the introduction of Bill 104 by the Quebec government. The latter excludes studies completed in the Quebec private school system as a way to gain English public system eligibility. It is anticipated that the EMSB youth sector student population of 26,886 could drop by as many as 3,000 students in five years.
"Our review leads us to conclude that a number of facilities are underutilized," stated Dr. Horace Goddard, chair of the EMSB Long Range Planning Committee and director of community services. "Consequently, it is our opinion that if the EMSB is to thrive and to deliver the quality educational programs that our students and parents have come to expect, and if we are to do this in a fiscally responsible manner, then, we must consolidate some of the enrolments. The demographic and financial realities dictate that we have no choice but to consider the closing of a number of schools. The closure of these schools with low enrolment will allow other schools to strengthen their enrolment, thereby providing an overall better service in a more efficient and fiscally responsible manner."
A more detailed look at the individual recommendations follows:
St. Ignatius of Loyola Elementary School, N.D.G.
The school presently has 149 students in a building which can house 320 (56.25 percent capacity). It is being recommended that the enrolment there be directed just over a kilometer away to St. Monica Elementary School, also in N.D.G, where the projected combined numbers in 2005-2006 would add up to 367 students in a facility able to accommodate 482. Data shows that St. Ignatius of Loyola has been experiencing a small but steady decline from one year to the next in enrolment since the start of the 2001-2002 academic year.
St. Gabriel Elementary School, Pointe St. Charles
The school presently has 155 students in space which can house 345 (53.04 percent capacity). This does not include the portion of the facility utilized by Vezina Outreach School. It is being recommended that the enrolment be directed to Westmount Park Elementary School, where 71 students from the St. Gabriel territory already attend classes. Projected combined numbers at Westmount Park in 2005-2006 would be 533 students in a facility able to accommodate 864. Projections by Baragar, the demographics company used by the EMSB and school boards across the country for such purposes, forecasts the St. Gabriel numbers dropping to 121 by 2008-2009.
St. Patrick Elementary School, The Plateau
The school presently has 82 students in a building which can house 570 (14.4 percent capacity). It is being recommended that the enrolment be directed to Bancroft Elementary School, also in the Plateau, where the projected combined numbers in 2005-2006 would be 229 in a facility able to accommodate 429. This does not include the top floor, which is occupied by MIND High School. St. Patrick was closed by Board resolution in January 1999. Through court action by the parents, it was kept open. In September 1998 there were 145 students. St. Patrick was closed again by resolution in January 2000, but remained open through further court action.
McLearon Elementary School, Pointe aux Trembles
The school presently has 171 students in a building which can house 365 (46.8 percent capacity). It is being recommended that the enrolment be directed to Edward Murphy Elementary School in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, where the projected combined numbers in 2005-2006 would be 412 in a facility able to accommodate 485. Data shows that since 1999, the enrolment at McLearon has declined steadily from 284 students. Furthermore, in addition to the EMSB territory, McLearon has also drawn students residing in Repentigny and Le Gardeur, which is the territory of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board. The latter group has been attending McLearon courtesy of inter-board agreements which no longer exist since the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board has opened a new elementary school in Repentigny this year. Enrolment would subsequently drop at McLearon to 140 by 2008-2009.
Roslyn Elementary School, Westmount
It is being recommended that the core French program (the EMSB offers three models of French instruction – Core, Bilingual and Immersion) at Roslyn be phased out, but that students from Grades 3 to 6 be allowed to complete their studies there. Transportation boundaries for the core program would be divided at Queen Mary Road, such that the area north of Queen Mary be annexed to Coronation Elementary School in Côte des Neiges and the area south of Queen Mary be annexed to Westmount Park. Roslyn has a population of 644. Of that number, 582 are registered for immersion and only 62 in core. The phasing out period would allow the immersion program to grow.
St. Pius X High School, Ahuntsic
The school presently has 226 students in space which can house 700 (32.3 percent capacity). This does not include parts of the building occupied by St. Pius X Adult Centre and the St. Pius X Culinary Institute. It is being recommended that the enrolment be directed to John F. Kennedy High School in St. Michel, where the projected combined numbers would be 761 students in space which can accommodate 1,225. This does not include parts of the building occupied by John F. Kennedy Business Centre. It should be noted that the Long Range Planning Committee recommended the closure of St. Pius X High School in 1999. At the time the community promised to introduce measures that would have increased enrolment and the Council voted to keep it open.
Wagar High School, Côte Saint-Luc
The school presently has 269 students in space which can house 600 (44.8 percent capacity). This does not include the first floor of the building being occupied by John Grant High School and the EMSB Book Processing and Media Centres. It is being recommended that the enrolment be directed to Marymount and Westmount High School. Wagar had a student population of 498 in 1999-2000. Baragar projects numbers at 223 by 2008-2009.
High School of Montreal Adult Centre, St. Michel
The centre serves more than 1,200 students on a daily basis in three shifts and it has experienced a steady growth in ETPs (equivalent full-time student places) since 2000. It is being recommended that the program be relocated to the St. Patrick facility, where it was previously housed before a July 15, 2003 court ruling (in the St. Patrick Elementary School case) necessitated the move to St. Michel. That left the EMSB without an adult centre in the downtown core.
Marymount Adult Centre, N.D.G.
Marymount Adult Centre has been cohabitating with Marymount Academy since 1985. During this time it has developed a strong program in basic education, forged solid partnerships with many different community organizations and continued to provide social integration services to adults with special needs in the hospital sector. In order to accommodate their growing enrolment, and with a capacity for only 325 students at a time, space has to be secured in other buildings. Meanwhile, Marymount Academy is operating at full capacity and has had to cap enrolment at the Secondary I level for one year. The combined student numbers at the youth and adult levels already exceeds capacity. By moving the adults to the Wagar facility, the program would finally have an opportunity to grow.
Program Mile End Outreach High School, Park Extension
The school is presently housed in rented quarters in the lower Park Extension area. It is designed for students aged 16 to 17 (Secondary IV and V) who have not reached their potential in traditional high school settings. It is being recommended that the school, which requires the use of four classrooms for 45 students, be moved to the St. Patrick facility.
Perspectives I Outreach High School and Perspectives II Outreach High School, Montreal North
Perspectives I and Perspectives II were launched in 2003-2004 in order to provide the East End with its first outreach schools. Originally, they were supposed to be in St. Michel. However, when space needed to be found for the High School of Montreal Adult Centre they were moved to the Montreal North building, which also serves as the home of the Galileo Adult Centre and Rosemount Technology Centre Campus II. There are presently 36 and 45 students respectively. It is being proposed that they be moved to St. Michel.
Michael J. Cohen