EMSB approves Willingdon annex, modular classrooms for Edinburgh

The two west-end schools have been asking for solution to overcrowding. The EMSB approved the new measures Wednesday night.

Board chair Angela Mancini also issues an apology following an ethics probe

English Montreal School Board chair Angela Mancini attended the meeting Wednesday. (CBC)

The English Montreal School Board approved measures to help ease overcrowding at two west-end elementary schools at its meeting Wednesday night — a meeting that ran late into the evening as commissioners went on to approve a non-confidence vote directed at the chair.

Willingdon Elementary, in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, will get space in the site of the former St. Ignatius of Loyola school, currently home to two alternative schools at the corner of Somerled and Coronation avenues. 

Those schools, Focus and Outreach, will be relocated.

Willingdon students in grades five and six will be bused to the annex about two kilometres away.

Edinburgh Elementary, in Montreal West, will get four modular classrooms, which are separate from the main school building.

Many parents of Edinburgh students showed up at the meeting, waiting to hear the EMSB's vote. Parents wanted five modular classrooms, but they still applauded loudly when the board settled on four.

Michael Rodger has two sons at Edinburgh School in Montreal West and he chairs its governing board. He told CBC that these new classrooms will certainly help as the school population has been dealing with serious space shortages.

The added modular rooms, he said, will mean "not having music on a stage while gym class is happening. Having our science teacher being able to go into a science room and be able to do science experiments in a science room. It is going to completely turn around how students will see science."

The EMSB has said Edinburgh is at 127 per cent capacity and Willingdon 90 per cent.

Board chair issues apology

Board chair Angela Mancini issued an apology following an ethics probe.

Mancini was found guilty of four ethics code breaches last year, following comments made in a private meeting in 2016.

Quebec's ethics commissioner ordered Mancini to apologize to Ann Marie Matheson and Benoît Duhême, the EMSB's director general and assistant director general.

"I would like to apologize, for the behaviour that they felt was inappropriate," she said.

"Certainly, that wasn't the intention, but it's not the emitter of message, but sometimes the receiver, who receives it, that we have to pay attention to. So, I would like to formally apologize to them, both Ms. Matheson, and [Mr.] Duheme."

Commission approves non-confidence vote

Commissioner Joe Ortona, who has been among those on the board criticizing Mancini's leadership, immediately said he would not accept the chair's apology and he led a non-confidence vote which the board approved by a majority

The non-confidence vote, which is symbolic and will not unseat Mancini, sparked a lengthy debate. The vote was called after midnight.

Commissioner Joe Ortona would not accept the chair's apology Wednesday evening. (CBC)

This comes as the provincial government continues to investigate the EMSB. Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said last month that his ministry will undertake an "exhaustive" probe into "troubling and serious allegations" about irregularities in the awarding of contracts related to vocational training.

With files from Kristy Snell and Matt D'Amours


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