Teacher makes video of crumbling ceiling for Quebec's education minister
Louis Joseph Papineau High School gym teacher says he shouldn't have to make a video to get repairs done
In the 24 years that Claude Whiting has been teaching, he says he's never seen an official with Quebec's Education Ministry pay a visit to his school.
The fact that part of the school's ceiling was falling down made matters more pressing.
So the gym teacher at Louis Joseph Papineau High School in Montreal's St-Michel neighbourhood made a 22-minute video, addressed to Education Minister François Blais.
In it, Whiting detailed the poor condition of the school.
Whiting started in the gym, showing off the nice paint job on the walls — done by volunteers. Then he focused his lens on the patchwork ceiling
Chicken wire keeps pieces of plaster that break loose from the ceiling from falling on the kids in the gym.
However, he said, the ceiling's problems are more serious than a few rogue pieces of plaster. He said a large portion of concrete appears to be detached and has been threatening to fall for years.
Education minister responds
The video had the desired effect — the education minister said on Thursday at the National Assembly that he was concerned.
"What's worrying me is the safety of personnel and of students," Blais said. He said the school board – Quebec's largest, the Commission Scolaire de Montréal – had the money to make the right decision and repair the school.
The school board responded, saying it does not have the money, estimated at as much as $800,000, to repair the ceiling. Even so, it has since closed one of the gyms for two weeks to carry out short-term repairs.
It said it would finish the more extensive repair job by 2017.
Whiting is pleased his video got to its intended destination, but he said he shouldn't have had to make a video to shame authorities into fixing the school.
"We shouldn't have to do that. I think our children have the right to not only quality education but... they also have the right to quality buildings, or at least safe [ones]," he said.