Montreal

Quebec blasts EMSB plan to move special need students

But how the province will ease pressure on overcrowded French-language schools is still a question that needs to be resolved, said Angela Mancini, chair of the English Montreal School Board.

But plan would have freed space for French schools, and EMSB chair says that problem still needs a solution

The English Montreal School Board proposed moving the Galileo Adult Education Centre, but the suggestion upset many parents and students from the school. (CBC)

The Quebec government is opposing a plan to move the Galileo Adult Education Centre in Montreal North, which would have freed up space for an overcrowded French school board.

But how the province will ease pressure on the bursting-at-the-seams Pointe-de-l'Ile school board (CSPI) is still a question that needs to be resolved, said Angela Mancini, chair of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB).

Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge told the EMSB back in January to find 156 additional classrooms for the CSPI by the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

In an April 8 statement, the EMSB said moving its Galileo centre was a possible solution.

That would have provided the CSPI with 82 additional classrooms. The EMSB planned to hold public consultations on the proposal in May.

The prospect, though, of moving Galileo sparked outrage from parents and students, who worried about the impact on students with special needs.

Last week, Roberge expressed his displeasure at the idea of forcing the special-needs students into a new home. He reiterated his opposition on Tuesday.

Angela Mancini, EMSB chair, says its time to ask school stakeholders what to do about space constraints in local school boards. (CBC)
 

"It's a mistake to even think that they can move those children," the education minister told reporters in Quebec City. 

Roberge said he plans to meet with both school boards in the coming days to explore other options.

EMSB promises to consult public

Mancini agreed that the 140 special needs students at the centre, which has 700 students in all, are particularly vulnerable.

With the Galileo move now off the table, Mancini is promising to consult the public before any new proposals are made.

"I think if we're going to bring about change, we need to speak to people about it," she told CBC Montreal's Daybreak on Tuesday.

"I think our stakeholders, our parents, will come to us and we'll probably get some good ideas from them. I think it's really important that we speak to them at this time." 

Mancini said she will not make any firm suggestions when it comes to solving the CSPI's space needs. The EMSB community is ready to help, she added, but it's not clear what can be done.

"I think there is a real willingness to help," she said. "How is that going to be done? Well, the devil is in the details."

CSPI's spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated that enrolment at the Galileo Centre was on the decline. In fact, only enrolment in the academic high school completion program has been going down.
    Apr 17, 2019 12:19 PM ET

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak

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