EMSB unanimously votes to enhance proposal to Quebec education minister

EMSB unanimously votes to enhance proposal to Quebec education minister

In a rare, unanimous move, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) has voted to sweeten up the deal it’s offering to Quebec’s education minister Jean-François Roberge to avoid losing three schools by including cohabitation in their proposal.

The original proposal only included transferring the Galileo Adult Educational Centre to the St. Pius X career centre and authorizing the sale and rental of two empty buildings and a vacant lot property of the EMSB.

EMSB parent commissioner Andrew Ross brought forward the motion to include cohabitation on Wednesday night. It also mandates EMSB chair Angela Mancini to have formal talks with the French board as soon “as soon possible.”

“This is one possibility that I personally believe in and so I feel it’s necessary to put that down on paper and get those conversations started,” Ross said.

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According to Ross, the move would provide more than 100 classrooms to the Commission Scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Île (CSPI) and enough land to build a school.

Ross hopes Wednesday’s motion will prevent the three schools that have been identified by Roberge from being handed over to the French system.

In a letter to the EMSB, dated May 8, Roberge said he would transfer Gerald McShane Elementary, General Vanier Elementary and John Paul I Junior High School to the CSPI unless the board came up with a solution by June 10.

Ross says the board should look into any possibility to keep schools within its network.

Mancini and the board’s vice-chair Joe Ortona agreed.

“From my perspective, anything that will allow us to be able to go back to the table and speak with our counterparts and the minister and to find a solution to try and save our schools is an important step that we are taking,” Mancini said.

“It’s important that we exhaust every means of negotiations possible, looking at everything, other than of course transferring buildings,” Ortona said.

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Roberge has already rejected the transfer of Galileo. In a video posted on social media last week, Miville Boudreault, the CSPI’s chair, also rejected the proposal as well as cohabitation and favours the transfer of three schools.

Roberge says Pointe-de-l’Île needs space for 3,000 students. According to Boudreault, it’s an “unprecedented demand” that he credits to an influx of refugees.

“What we need to do is to make sure is that the door is open and hopefully they’ll walk through,” Ross added.