Quebec may slash 50 per cent of school boards

QUEBEC CITY — Montreal’s biggest French-language school board is set to undergo major restructuring. In fact, the number of francophone school boards in the province is expected to drop significantly, from 60 to 36.

“We want to have a better organization with the geography, the demography and the organization,” said Education Minister Yves Bolduc.

Bolduc is expected to go easier on English-language boards. They could drop nine to seven. Riverside, New Frontiers and Eastern Townships are named as possibly merging.

“We want to streamline, we want to make things more efficient. Already the English school system is a lot more efficient than the French school commission, system. Therefore we start with that premise,” said Liberal MNA Rita de Santis.

Low voter turnout in the school board elections is said to have hardened Bolduc’s resolve to reform the system. On Wednesday, the opposition pushed him to go even further.

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The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) said it believes school board elections should be abolished, even though voter turnout in English-speaking communities spiked to 21 per cent this year.

“We think we should not have elections because people, they don’t vote, and the democracy should start in each school,” CAQ Leader François Legault said.

Once again there are fears the government is trying to centralize power in Quebec City.

“I am everyday worried with that government who scrapped the participation of citizens, it’s the same thing in health,” said Quebec Solidaire co-leader, Françoise David.

The Liberals argued centralizing will put millions back in provincial coffers and won’t impact the quality education now being offered in the English-language system.

“There’s going to be a tremendous amount of energy to make sure that the interests of the English-speaking community are protected,” de Santis added.

Bolduc is consulting with school board representatives in order to gain their support for the eventual tabling of new legislation.

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