Parents and students formed human chains outside English schools across the Island of Montreal on Wednesday to protest Quebec’s plan to give three east-end school buildings to the French system.
Gerald McShane Elementary, General Vanier Elementary and John Paul I Junior High School of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) are expected to be transferred to the Pointe-de-l’Île School Board.
“Honestly, I still have faith that we can save our schools,” said Francesca Pitruzello, chair of the the governing board of Gerald McShane Elementary.
The move is an effort to address overcrowding in the city’s French-language schools.
WATCH BELOW: Parents desperate for answers over the transfer of English schools
Several possible solutions are being thrown around now in response to the potential shift, including merging some of the French students at Galileo Adult Education Centre — but both the province and officials with the special needs school oppose the idea.
Another plan considered “trading” the Lester B. Pearson High School for Jean-Grou Secondary School, which could net about 1,000 seats for the French-language school board — a third of Pointe-de-l’Île’s needed 3,000 spots.
“[We are] asking Minister Roberge to please consider [that] we would like to welcome the French students in our facility and have a cohabitation model,” said Sylvia Lo Bianco, a commissioner with the EMSB.
EMSB Chairperson Angela Mancini also told Global News on Tuesday she is hoping for a solution that would involve “cohabitation,” where the two school boards could share buildings, but both boards need to agree to a plan like that.
WATCH BELOW: Could a school swap help ease overcrowding at a French-language school board in Montreal?
The school boards have until June 10 to submit an alternative proposal.
If they cannot come to an agreement, Education Minister Jean-François Roberge says he intends to use a section of the Education Act that allows him to force a transfer deemed to be in the public interest.
WATCH BELOW: Deadline looming for EMSB to choose building to hand over to French board
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