Parents fight St. Gabriel Elementary closure: 2nd time in two years
For the second time in two years, parents with children at the last English public school in Montreal's southwest district are plotting a fight against plans to close St. Gabriel's in Pointe St. Charles.
On Monday night about 40 parents and school supporters met at the school to discuss their strategy to save it.
Two years ago, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) wanted to close St. Gabe's— as it is known in the community — because of low enrolment.
Parentskept the school open then, and the administration implemented several changes to revitalize the school—from a new principal, to literacy programs and a bigger roster of volunteers for extracurricular activities.
Parents believe the initiatives will eventually attract more students to St. Gabe's, but enrolment this year has barely topped 150, and the EMSB has signalled the institution is back on the chopping block.
But there's more to school than the number of students inside, argued Beverly Steele, a grandmother who lives in the area.
"Heads count, [and] I have to respect the board for worrying about their budget bottom lines," said Steele, who volunteers at the school. "But I would like to think the bottom line is: before we count heads in a community, we look at how kids are learning."
The EMSB has said that it prefers to bus childrenwho live inPointe St. Charles to Westmount Park Elementary School, an institution northeast of St. Gabe's.
The school board will decide on the proposed closure in January 2007. St. Gabe's governing board has been given the task to formulate a new case by Novemberto keep the school open.