Montreal English schools ‘bursting at the seams’ as classes begin

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English schools in Montreal face overcrowding as school year begins
English schools in and around Montreal are dealing with record enrolment, forcing some to build temporary classrooms . Global's Billy Shields looks into how administrations are dealing with overcrowding and budget cuts – Aug 28, 2018

As the first day of class in the English Montreal School Board started, officials met and greeted new students and parents, and pondered how to fix an unusual dilemma — packed classrooms.

“We are bursting at the seams,” said Joanna Genovezos, the principal of Roslyn Elementary School in Westmount.

READ MORE: Temporary modular classrooms erected to cope with overcrowded, crumbling Montreal schools

After years of decline, enrolment at the EMSB is on the upswing. The school board says 267 more students are heading to class, bringing the total enrolment up to 19,561 elementary and high school students.

“In our west end of the city, most of our schools are full to capacity,” said EMSB chair Angela Mancini.

As a result, schools like Roslyn and Edinburgh are having to re-purpose space to make classes and students fit.

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In some cases, music teachers have had to give up their classrooms to accommodate the boost in students. Other schools are taking steps like partitioning their library to make everything fit.

READ MORE: Quebec political parties seek to woo parents, families as school year begins

The increase in EMSB enrolment comes after years of declining numbers in the wake of Bill 101, the province’s French language charter.

The school board attributes the increase to clever marketing, but a mini baby boom in the 2000s and an influx of foreign students are also factors.

“We’re getting a lot of foreign students whose parents are coming here to study who are on visas,” said Genovezos.

“And the visa is the loophole that allows them to come to an English school.”

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