To the parents of: Gerald McShane Elementary, General Vanier Elementary and John Paul I Junior High School
On May 9th , the school board received a letter from Jean-Francois Roberge, Minister of Education and Higher Education, announcing his intention to transfer three schools: Gerald Mc Shane Elementary, General Vanier Elementary and John Paul I Junior High School, from the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) to the Commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Île (CSPI).
I know that this news comes as a shock. But, it is our understanding that the decision is not yet final.
I would like to give you a little background on how we have come to this point.
Discussions about helping the CSPI meet its pressing need for additional space have been ongoing since January. In February, the EMSB proposed that the CSPI share the Galileo Adult Education building on Gariepy in Montreal North. This building is on CSPI territory and such a co-habitation arrangement would result in almost the same number of classes for the CSPI as the combined three EMSB youth sector schools (57 to 60 versus 63).
I acknowledge that any disruption to a student-community is not ideal. And certainly, if any of the three Adult Education programs have to move, we will do so with care and by ensuring that the proper teaching and learning environments will be provided at their new facilities.
The consultation that is presently in place pertains to three programs at Galileo Adult Education Centre, two empty school buildings and one piece of land that the EMSB does not use. The Council of Commissioners will hold an evening of hearings on May 16th, and a final decision on each elements of that consultation will be decided by the Council on May 21st.
In his letter sent yesterday on the transfer of the three schools, Minister Roberge asked for feedback on certain issues, including the impact of transferring elementary children, on the presence of special-needs children and on siblings attending the same school. We have until June 10th to provide our feedback. This provides us with a window of opportunity.
I encourage you to share your views on the Minister’s proposal with Commissioners either in writing or at a special meeting being held on Monday night at 7 p.m. at our offices at 6000 Fielding. Please register when you arrive in order to speak during the question period at the start of the meeting. It may be most effective to have the Chair of the Governing Board read a prepared statement.
If we are unable to reverse or modify the decision of the Minister, we will work to ensure that specific concerns are addressed and make proper arrangements for all impacted students. But we are not there yet. So for now, principals have been instructed not to accept student transfers.
The Directorate of the board, like you, is frustrated and saddened by this unfortunate situation. But we want to assure all parents that we will continue to focus on the best interests of our students and community. I will continue to keep you updated on this important issue.
The education of your children remains our main priority!
Ann Marie Matheson
English Montreal School Board