One of Quebec's largest English school boards is shutting down three schools and will bolster French-language education in order to fight declining enrolment. 

Three Lester B. Pearson schools will close on July 1, 2010:

  • Jubilee Elementary in Pointe Claire.
  • Bishop Whelan Elementary in Dorval.
  • Purcell Academy Elementary in Pierrefonds.

Officials with the Lester B. Pearson School Board in Montreal announced that Jubilee Elementary, Bishop Whelan Elementary and Purcell School will close next year, and the buildings will be repurposed.

At a meeting Monday night, board members also announced the phasing in of a new French immersion program at many of its schools.

Chairman Marcus Tabachnick said that closing a school is always a difficult decision to make, but the board had no choice.

"[We're] trying to ensure that the schools that we maintain are all feasible and viable long-term," he said after the Monday night meeting. "That's how the suggestions came forward and those were the decisions that we made."

The board has suffered the loss of more than 2,000 students in the last four years, mostly to French-language or private schools, Tabachnick said.

Lester B. Pearson will try to stem the trend by gradually introducing more French-language instruction through a program called Français Plus, he said.

Eventually, at least 50 per cent of all curriculum or school activities will be offered in French to attract more students.

Not surprisingly, some parents were not happy to hear about the closures.

"I wish more [school] commissioners had taken the time to come into our school, and support us, and seen what we have there," said Wendy Clifford, whose daughter attends Jubilee Elementary in Pointe Claire. "We have a beautiful, warm community."

The three schools will close their doors on July 1, 2010.