The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) announced it will close three east end schools ahead of the next academic year: General Vanier Elementary, John Paul I Junior High School and St. Dorothy Elementary School.
The EMSB rendered its decision on proposed school mergers and closures at a special meeting at the EMSB’s headquarters on Monday evening.
Marlene Jennings, a former Liberal MP who was appointed as head of the trusteeship of the school board, announced the following decisions:
- General Vanier Elementary in Saint-Leonard will close and merge with Pierre de Coubertin and Dante elementary schools.
- John Paul I Junior High School, also in Saint-Leonard, will close and merge with Laurier Macdonald High School. Together they will form one high school, secondary one to five.
- St. Dorothy Elementary School in Saint-Michel will close and merge with Our lady of Pompei Elementary School in Ahuntsic.
All closures and transfers will take effect by June 30 ahead of the following academic year in September. Student registration is on Feb. 1.
“It was difficult knowing that I would be rendering decisions that would have an impact on parents, students, teachers,” Jennings said.
In an ideal situation, the EMSB wouldn’t have to close any English schools in Montreal, she added.
“But that is not our current reality.”
As the number of students in the French sector grows, Jennings said the EMSB had no choice but to transfer several of its school facilities over to the French school boards.
The former MP said these events are in large part due to what she called the “exodus of English Montreal families” from the city.
Lucia Bucca, a parent from John Paul I Junior High School, said she is surprised by the decision to merge the school with Laurier Macdonald High School.
“It was not one of the options offered,” Bucca told Global News. “It was one of the only junior highs in the east end.”
“It’s a big mistake. I think it’s disgusting, everything that’s happening with our schools.”
Jennings confirmed that there would be no changes made to either Lester B. Pearson High School or Gerald McShane Elementary School in Montreal north.
Jennings said she believes she made reasonable decisions with the goal of ensuring the long-term vitality of other EMSB schools.
Monday evening’s special meeting comes after the school board held consultations two weeks ago with several parties, including parent committees, unions and staff members.
Last year, the EMSB was forced by the Quebec government to give up two of its facilities to the overcrowded Pointe-de-l’Île school board after a months-long debate on how to accommodate its dire need for extra space.
At the time, Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said he could not leave students at the French-language school board with no place to go.
— With files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez