Commissioners of the Lester B. Pearson School Board voted Monday evening to delay the closure of Lakeside Academy and postpone the merger of two of its elementary schools.
Parents and students of Lakeside Academy who packed the room, some carrying banners that read 'Save Lakeside', applauded loudly after the vote.
"I think we should not be turning a deaf ear to our constituents," said commissioner Eric Bender, who presented the resolution to postpone the shut down.
Bender originally voted in favour of the June 30 closure, but changed his mind when he heard the community's ideas to keep it open.
"People working in good faith can arrive at a reasonable solution," he said at Monday night's meeting.
"By the community, I mean not only the parents [of students] who attend Lakeside Academy but also from MPs, from MNAs and from the local municipalities of Dorval and Lachine," Bender said. "They're looking for new initiatives to make the school more viable."
In December, the Lester B. Pearson School Board voted to close Lakeside Academy, as well as merge eight elementary schools.
Both items on Monday night's agenda, one calling for the "reconsideration" of the closure of Lakeside Academy and the other to postone merger of Riverview and Verdun elementary schools, passed.
Bender's proposal included a one-year timeframe "to allow various initiatives to be discussed more fully and agreements arrived at."
One of the ideas to save Lakeside involves a partnership with the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, on Montreal's South Shore. This would incorporate more First Nations-oriented education in the curriculum. Another suggestion is more collaboration with local French-language schools that are part of the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board.
Dozens of children from Kahnawake already attend Lakeside.
A plea to parents
Suanne Stein Day, chair of the LBPSB, congratulated parents for their efforts and urged them to do more to fight for public schools.
"Now is the time for you to be lobbying your MNAs," she said. "I no longer feel taken for granted by this government. I feel completely marginalized...Two of my children have already moved out of the province and I hope my third will stay. But she won't if we continue to feel marginalized...I want to be a Quebecer. I have lived here all my life."
Parents of Lakeside Academy have already submitted a rescue plan to the school board.
Students also made a video, where they changed the lyrics of Adele's hit song Hello, to express their disappointment about their school being put on the chopping block.
Lakeside Academy parents' rescue plan