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English Montreal School Board begins hearings on proposed mergers, closures for east-end schools

Click to play video: 'Focus Montreal: English Montreal School Board under partial trusteeship' Focus Montreal: English Montreal School Board under partial trusteeship
WATCH: After a damning report called the province's largest school board dysfunctional, the Quebec government made the decision to place the school board under partial trusteeship – Dec 8, 2019

The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is holding consultations for two days over proposals for major school changes for the next academic year.

Marlene Jennings, who was placed as head of the trusteeship of the embattled school board by the Quebec government, is presiding over the hearings, which started on Wednesday evening.

The consultations heard from several parties, including the affected schools’ governing boards, unions and the school board’s parents’ committee.

After it was forced to transfer two of its schools to a French-language board last year, the EMSB is now considering merging and closing several schools in Montreal’s east end.

“It’s a difficult decision,” Jennings said. “But it’s a decision that hopefully will ensure –medium and long term– that our system and our schools will continue to be viable and will continue to produce the best results of any school board across the province.”

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READ MORE: English Montreal School Board placed under partial trusteeship

The school board’s long-range planning committee is specifically looking at four different proposals for next fall.

The committee suggests merging General Vanier Elementary School with another school in Saint-Léonard.

After transferring its building to the Pointe-de-l’Île School Board, General Vanier is currently sharing space with Pierre de Coubertin Elementary School.

At Wednesday’s hearings, Pierre de Coubertin Elementary’s governing board asked that the entire territory of General Vanier be allocated to Pierre de Coubertin.

“To secure Pierre de Coubertin’s future, to have future registrations from the General Vanier area come to P.D.C., that would help strengthen our school,” said governing board member Maria Corsi.

Corsi argued it was smart to keep Pierre de Coubertin in the network as the building is in great condition.

Another proposal is to permanently merge John Paul I Junior High School with Laurier Macdonald High School. The latter’s building was also handed over to Pointe-de-l’Île last summer.

The school board is also considering merging St. Dorothy Elementary School in Saint-Michel and Our Lady of Pompei Elementary School in Ahuntsic — two of its schools with low enrollment — into one of the two facilities.

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While the EMSB is also looking at moving Lester B. Pearson High School in Montreal North to a new building in the future, it does not have a proposal for a specific location.

READ MORE: Quebec to hand over 2 EMSB schools to overcrowded French board

The next EMSB hearing begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday at its headquarters on Fielding Avenue.

After the process is over, Jennings is expected to present her decisions at a special meeting on Jan. 20.

Click to play video: 'Quebec government places EMSB under trusteeship' Quebec government places EMSB under trusteeship
Quebec government places EMSB under trusteeship – Nov 6, 2019

–With files from Global’s Gloria Henriquez

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