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Anglophone and Francophone school boards united in opposition to Bill 86

WATCH ABOVE: The chairs of six English and French school boards on the island of Montreal and the Laurentians united to speak about the Bill 86 hearings, which aims to restructure school board governance. Global's Navneet Pall reports.

MONTREAL – Hearings for Bill 86 are over, but that hasn’t stopped some English and French school boards from showing a unified opposition to the legislation, which aims to restructure school board governance.

Anglophone and Francophone school boards don’t often collaborate, but their opposition to Bill 86 brought them to Vincent Massey Collegiate Thursday.

READ MORE: Quebec education minister says he needs to ‘reflect’ on Bill 86 hearings

“Although each board is dealing with its own realities, we all share the concerns of ensuring academic success and perseverance of all our students that attend our school each year,” said Angela Mancini, chairperson of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB).

Representatives from the EMSB, Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB), Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board and Francophone school boards Pointe-de-l’île, Montréal, and Laval gathered to reiterate the points they brought to the hearings, which wrapped up Wednesday.

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Rather than introduce a new law, the school boards said they would prefer to see amendments to the current legislation to improve current practices, such as school elections.

READ MORE: Quebec education minister won’t say if he’ll abandon Bill 86

“We feel very strongly that school board elections should be twinned with municipal election,” said Suanne Stein Day, LBPSB chairperson.

“Voters found it impossible to come and cast [their votes]. People had to travel 80 kilometres to a polling station.”

While the opposition to Bill 86 has been very vocal, there are parents who are in favour of it because it would give them more say in how schools function – right down to helping in the hiring of the school principal.

“This is not just elections once every four years,” said Crystel Jobin-Gagnon, of the Fédération des comités de parent du Québec.

“It’s what happens everyday in our schools and if we make decisions closer to our students that can only help them in the long run.”

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However, that’s not a good enough reason, according to the school boards.

READ MORE: Lester B. Pearson school board wants Bill 86 scrapped

“There’s no school board that would not take into consideration the criteria that’s put forth by the governing boards,” said Jennifer Maccarone, chair of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board.

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“[The governing boards] who are not only comprised of parents, but also teachers and community members who understand the unique needs of their communities.”

A decision may be months away, but the boards remain optimistic that Education Minister Sébastien Proulx, is listening.

“[I am] far more optimistic and that’s a reflection of the minister himself, who has been open and who is listening,” Stein Day said.
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