|EMSB VOTES TO CLOSE FOUR SCHOOLS|
MONTREAL, JANUARY 18, 2005– The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) Council of Commissioners has voted to shut four youth sector schools, effective June 30, 2005, while granting a reprieve to two others, which were targeted for closure.
At special January 17 meeting on the subject of proposed major school change it was decided that St. Ignatius of Loyola in N.D.G. and St. Patrick on the Plateau will close. St. Ignatius students will be directed to nearby St. Monica while St. Patrick pupils will go to Bancroft, also in the Plateau. Meanwhile, St. Gabriel in Pointe St. Charles and McLearon in Pointe aux Trembles were kept open. A recommendation from the EMSB Long Range Planning Committee to phase out the core English program at Roslyn Elementary School in Westmount was adopted in order to allow for growth in its French immersion program. Meanwhile, two high schools - St. Pius X in Ahuntsic and Wagar in Côte Saint-Luc – will also close. St. Pius X students will attend John F. Kennedy High School in St. Michel while Wagar pupils will be directed to Marymount Academy and Westmount High School. The disposition of the large Wagar facility, which also houses the special needs John Grant High School, will be the subject of a new consultation process. Options include relocating the Marymount Adult Centre to Wagar; having Marymount Academy, which shares quarters with the adults, relocate to Wagar and John Grant take over part of its space; or a triple switch which would involve Royal Vale’s special status elementary and high schools moving to Wagar, Marymount Academy switching to the Royal Vale building and John Grant going to the Marymount facility. Hearings have been scheduled for Mon. March 14, with a final vote slated for March 30.
A number of other decisions were made at the January 17 meeting. The High School of Montreal Adult Centre in St. Michel will move to the St. Patrick facility, where it was previously located; Perspectives I and II in Montreal North will take up residence in St. Michel where the High School of Montreal is now and Program Mile End will move from rented quarters on De L’Épee Street in Park Extension to the St. Patrick building. Theses schools are part of the Outreach network, which is designed for students who have not reached their potential in traditional high school settings.
Background on New Consultations
PROPOSAL 1: 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.
PROPOSAL 2: Marymount Academy’s youth enrolment has increased dramatically over the past five years. As the population grew, it took classroom space from Marymount Adult Centre. The Marymount Adult Centre could not give up any more space for the 2004-05 academic year without compromising its ability to meet its responsibility. Therefore, the enrolment at the Secondary I level of Marymount Academy was capped. The latter has an English program, an International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) program and a special education program. A STEP program (satellite class connected to Batshaw Youth and Family Services) would be relocated to Marymount Academy for July 1, 2005 should Wagar High School be closed. The capacity of the Wagar building is 1,000 pupil places. This takes into account some modifications required in the basement section of the facility (presently occupied by John Grant High School). Marymount Academy presently has 693 students. John Grant is a special needs school, with 130 students. It offers a modified English Program with a number of pre-vocational options such as hairdressing, restaurant services and building maintenance. A work-study program is an important aspect of the John Grant pre-vocational program. Proposal I examines the relocation of the Marymount Adult Centre to the Wagar facility. The rationale is that one of the two institutions within the Marymount facility must be relocated. The other possibility to examine is the relocation of Marymount Academy to the Wagar facility. The growing enrolment of Marymount Academy dictates the use of the entire Wagar facility. As a consequence, John Grant High School would have to be relocated.
By relocating Marymount Academy to the Wagar facility, the growing enrolment of Marymount Academy would be easily accommodated at Wagar. The school would also have the benefit of a facility that is highly suited for the youth sector. And it would meet the wishes expressed by the Marymount Academy governing board during EMSB hearings held on December 6.
The population distribution of Marymount Academy shows that it takes students from a very large area. In addition to the program it offers, the location and its easy accessibility are also factors that contribute to the growing enrolment. While the Wagar facility may not be as ideally located, a comparison of the population distribution of Marymount Academy with Wagar High School shows that students come from the same areas. Therefore, the Wagar facility is suitable.
By relocating Marymount Academy to the Wagar facility, the Marymount Adult Centre would remain in its present location. This would allow the Centre to expand the services it offers to respond to the needs of the community. As well, this would meet the wishes expressed by the Marymount Adult Centre governing board during the hearings. Meanwhile, the EMSB is committed to the John Grant program, having relocated the school from Lachine to Wagar in 2000 at considerable cost. By relocating John Grant to the Marymount facility, the school would have additional space to expand its services and/or offer a wider range of programs. One of the concerns expressed by John Grant in its present location is the small size of some of its classrooms. Finally, while the Board transports 48 of the students, the population distribution of John Grant High School shows that the students that use public transportation would be better served in the Marymount facility. Furthermore, the easy access to transportation would benefit the students in their placement in the work place program. The relocation of the two schools, as well as the renovations required in both the Wagar and Marymount facilities to house Marymount Academy, Marymount Adult Centre and John Grant High School respectively, would cost in the order of $750,000.
PROPOSAL 3: Royal Vale School on Somerled Avenel in N.D.G. is a special status school, with an enrolment of over 700 students at its elementary and high schools. It is anticipated that the enrolment will remain steady or increase over the next several years. In a move to protect its special status, the school has recently adopted the use of an entrance examination in the selection of new students for the high school.
Royal Vale School is a kindergarten to Secondary V school, with a special status that has enriched mathematics and science programs at both the elementary and secondary levels. It offers a French Immersion Program at both the elementary and secondary levels and a PELO Program (Hebrew studies) integrated in the curriculum during the day. Royal Vale School’s population for both elementary and high school is drawn from the greater EMSB territory. Unlike other EMSB elementary schools, it does not have a school boundary and therefore receives no transportation services. Proposal 2 examines the possibility of relocating Marymount Academy to the Wagar facility. There is, however, another scenario that should be considered when the facilities in the northern sector of the southwest are reviewed. The population distribution of Marymount Academy shows that the location of the Royal Vale facility is also ideal to serve this population given that it is located about one kilometre to the west. By relocating Marymount Academy to the Royal Vale facility, the growing enrolment of Marymount Academy would be easily accommodated, as the capacity of the Somerled facility is 1,000 pupil places. The population would have the benefit of a better facility that would meet the wishes expressed by the Marymount Academy governing board during the December hearings. The population distribution of Royal Vale shows that a significant number of students live in the Hampstead and Côte St. Luc areas. By relocating to the Wagar facility, one highly suited for the youth sector, Royal Vale would be better able to deliver its specialized curriculum. This would allow Royal Vale, a school with special status, to attract students who are presently choosing to attend private schools. In addition, this would permit for the better utilization of all the secondary school facilities in the geographic area. The relocation of the three schools, as well as the renovations required in the three facilities would cost in the order of $1.1 million.
Michael J. Cohen