Some Lester B. Pearson schools could be on the chopping block

MONTREAL – Teachers at Verdun Elementary took to the street Tuesday in the latest strike action over ongoing contract negotiations with the provincial government.

But now, it seems they may have another issue to worry about.

With public hearings set to start on the future of the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB), teachers may soon have to fight for their school’s very existence.

“It’s part of the declining enrolment in English schools,” said Verdun Elementary teacher Christine Krahulec.

The West Island school board was hit with a $3.7 million cut in the last provincial budget.

That kicked off an 18 month consultation project on how to reduce spending – and that means the future of some schools could be on the line.

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“It’s a very real thing. It could be closing, it could be merging, it could be re-purposing of buildings,” explained LBPSB chairperson Suanne Stein Day.

Stein Day emphasized that the hearings aren’t just about cuts, but to address the shifting needs of the school board.

“It [enrolment] absolutely goes down by a few hundred students every year,” she said, noting that this has been the pattern for years.

“I think this year was almost 700 students, but in the adult and vocational sectors, our numbers are rising.”

Twenty-three groups are slated to present at the hearings to make the case for why their schools should survive.

Public consultations begin Tuesday night at Verdun Elementary, Wednesday at Westwood High School in Saint-Lazare and Thursday at John Rennie High School in Pointe-Claire.

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