Hundreds of parents attended an English Montreal School Board meeting Monday night in an effortto save their schools slated for closure.

The EMSB plans to close four elementary schools in 2007:

  • Carlyle Elementary in the Town of Mount Royal.
  • Frederick Banting Elementary in Montreal North.
  • St. Gabriel's Elementary in Pointe-St-Charles.
  • McLearon Elementary in Pointe-aux-Trembles (Montreal East).

Declining enrolment is to blame for the scheduled closures— but parents at the Monday night meeting argued that as the onlyEnglish schools left in their neighbourhoods, they play a vital role in their community.

Two busloads of parents from St. Gabriel's travelled to the meeting.They're facing the second battle in two years to save their modest school, which currentlywelcomes 116 students.

In 2005, the EMSB threatened to close the Pointe-St-Charles institution, but was dissuaded by tenacious parents who organized community-wide protests defending the school's survival.

One-third of the school's surrounding population are anglophones, and they rely on St. Gabriel's, parents told the EMSB board.

Other parents argued their schools are the only English-language ones for kilometres, and if they close their children will have to endure long bus rides to other parts of the city.

The closures aren't yet confirmed, and the EMSB will review its options until the end of the calendar year, said school commissioner Frank Verillo.

The school board will vote on the proposed closures in January.