Dozens of concerned parents showed up to a meeting at Heritage Regional High School in Montreal’s south shore Monday to discuss the possibility of rezoning Riverside School Board to combat the issue of overcrowding.
Many parents argued they don’t believe it’s the best solution.
If the board rezones, Rachael Latiff’s youngest daughter will have to transfer from William Latter Elementary, five minutes away from her Île Demers home, to another school that is 20 minutes away.
“I would like her to stay there, she’s in Grade three, she’ll be in Grade four next year. We’re asking her to transition to a new school with new friends, and then just have two years before then transitioning to high school,” Latiff said.
“I know what a step that was for my two other children and I’m concerned what impact that would have on her academics and her well being.”
Tracy Languedoc recently moved from LaSalle to La Prairie so her five-year-old son could attend St. Lawrence Elementary, just like she did.
“I want him to be fully bilingual, I want him to benefit,” Languedoc said.
Now, she might have to enroll him at a school in Greenfield Park.
“It would affect me quite deeply,” she said.
The board explained overcrowding might have to do with a housing boom in the area, adding the government doesn’t consider that enough of a reason to build new schools.
“They have to fill in the schools that have the capacity, empty rooms and then once that’s done, the government would look at building a new building,” said Dan Lamoureux, chairperson of the Riverside School Board.
Parents said they want the board to consider other options, such as a grandfather clause.
“We’ve seen that by grandfathering everybody who is already in the school, we are OK on the numbers to accommodate those students in the next four years,” said Patrick Kemp, a member of William Latter Elementary’s governing board.
“It’s a band-aid solution in the short term, especially since we know something else will have to get done eventually.”
Representatives at John Adam Elementary want to apply the grandfather clause to siblings, as well as have a one-year extension to analyze numbers and find better solutions.
“We don’t want to lose children or families to the French boards,” Melinda Dadamo said.
The board said it will look at all the proposals.
“We’re going to look at the cost after this evening and see if there’s an accommodation that can be made,” Lamoureux said.
The board has until February, when new enrollments begin, to implement the changes.