The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is in the midst of figuring out what to do next as the province begins the contentious transfer of three of its schools to an overcrowded French-language board.
Concerned parents and staff showed up to the EMSB’s council of commissioners meeting on Wednesday, demanding answers about what the future holds for nearly 800 students without a school next fall.
Maria Corsi, the organizer behind the Save our East End Schools movement, called for unity among parents to protect their children and their schools during what she describes as a stressful time.
“We need to come together as anglophones to protect our community as a whole,” said Corsi.
Under the plan, Gerald McShane Elementary School, General Vanier Elementary School and John Paul I Junior High School are being handed over to the Pointe-de-l’Île school board. The French-language board is direly missing space to accommodate nearly 3,000 students.
Education Minister Jean-François Roberge gave the two schools boards until June 10 to propose a different solution, but he said this week he will remain open to any last-minute proposals to avoid the forced transfer. The EMSB had repeatedly suggested cohabitation, but both Pointe-de-l’Île and Roberge rejected the idea.
The EMSB also said it disagrees with Roberge’s choice to use a section of the Education Act that allows him to force a transfer that is deemed to be in the public interest.
Angela Mancini, chairperson for the EMSB, said there is still uncertainty surrounding the transfer during the Wednesday evening meeting. The council of commissioners will meet again on Thursday to discuss what comes next but Mancini says legal action has not been ruled out.
“What we can tell you all is that we are looking at every possible way to save our schools,” said Mancini.
WATCH: English community furious over education minister’s decision to transfer English schools to the French system
What came as a blow to many is that Roberge officially announced the plan will go ahead during an interview with a local radio station on Tuesday. Both parents and the school board say they were disappointed with how the situation was handled.
“It’s time he stops playing games and he stops playing with people and their children and starts actually being a minister to all,” said Corsi.
Laura Forté’s four children were supposed to attend Gerald McShane in the fall. As it stands, she says her young family is in a limbo until they know what happens next. She hopes the EMSB comes up with a plan of action — even if it includes launching a legal challenge.
“It’s just hard to keep up and I’ve had such anxiety,” she said.
— With files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez and Rachel Lau
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