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Last English high school in Verdun in jeopardy as board announces ‘major school change’ policy

Major school changes at LBPSB raising concerns
WATCH: The majority of high schools at the Lester B. Pearson School Board are only two-thirds full. Decreasing enrollment has forced the school board to launch a major school change. As Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports, it could affect hundreds of English-speaking students.

Montreal’s English-language Beurling Academy could be in jeopardy as the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) has announced a “major school change” policy as part of its three-year plan.

With lowering enrolment numbers, students at the Verdun high school could be transferred to the nearby LaSalle Community Comprehensive High School in July 2020. The relocation of students at Beurling Academy would open up much-needed space for the growing demand for adult vocational schooling.

This is one option the Lester B. Pearson School Board’s council of commissioners considered in a resolution to initiate a major school change consultation on Monday night.

Four schools, including Beurling Academy, Lakeside Academy, Lindsay Place High School and St. Thomas High School, are currently under review.

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The second tabled option for the last remaining English-language high school in Verdun is what the school board is calling a “revision of the educational project,” which would not force students to be relocated but would re-evaluate the school’s functions.

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“We are not asking people to chose between A and B. We are saying there is option A and there is option B is there a C or D option, that is up for discussion” Burke said.

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Nathalie Miron will be sending her son to Beurling Academy, but she is worried about the possible transfer.

She chose Beurling Academy because of the services available for her son.

“My concern as a parent is the resources that he requires that i know Beurling can meet I do not know if LCCHS Can,”Miron said.

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Miron says she not surprised by the announcement as she understands the lowering enrollment in English schools.

Miron has five children and has gone through four major school changes.  Miron says she and the Verdun community will be standing their ground.

“I will fight as hard as we need too absolutely 150 per cent we will push, the parents of Verdun rally,” Miron said.

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The restructuring comes as seven of the 11 secondary schools under the LBPSB are operating at 60 per cent capacity or less.

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According to the Major School Change document, which is available online, the number of English-eligible students in the LBPSB territory has declined from 30,226 to 25,023 between 2009-10 and 2016-17.

“There has been a subsequent enrollment decline in secondary schools from 11,979 to 8,314 students between 2007 and 2017,” the document continues.

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Another notable change to be tabled is the possible merger of Lindsay Place and St. Thomas high schools.

However, Noel Burke, chairperson of the LBPSB, made it clear that these changes are not set in stone.

The school board will be holding public consultations where parents are invited to speak.

An information session will be held on June 18, and public hearings are set to begin on Nov. 26 and 27.

The final decision for the fate of the schools will be decided at a Dec. 16 council meeting.