Quebec to lose 2 of its 9 English-language school boards
Sources tell Radio-Canada that Education Minister Yves Bolduc will merge boards on the South Shore
Education Minister Yves Bolduc confirmed at the National Assembly on Wednesday that he plans to dramatically reduce the number of school boards in the province.
Bolduc would not confirm the numbers reported by CBC/Radio-Canada earlier on Wednesday.
However, sources told CBC’s French-language service that the number of school boards will go from 72 to 46.
The number of French-language school boards would shrink nearly by half, dropping from 60 to 36.
The French-language Montreal School Board (CSDM) — the biggest one in the province — will undergo major restructuring.
Proposed school board structure
36 French-language school boards
7 English-language school boards
3 special-status school boards
At least two of Quebec’s nine English-language school boards will likely be merged as well.
Moira Bell, the former chairwoman of the Riverside School Board on Montreal's South Shore, said the writing's been on the wall for years.
Bell said she wouldn't be surprised if Riverside merges with New Frontiers to the west and the Eastern Townships School Board to the east.
"Eastern Townships, New Frontiers and ourselves had discussed and met frequently about how we could share service in terms of adult and vocational education," Bell said, adding that the minister has many issues to deal with before proceeding with the mergers.
She said the English-language boards off the island of Montreal face particular challenges, because they cover so much geographical territory.
Bolduc meets with board leaders
Bolduc confirmed his plan to overhaul the school administration system in Quebec when pressed in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
"We think we’ve got some plausible scenarios that would be acceptable, but all the scenarios are negotiable," Bolduc said.
"We will work together to find the best way to organize services in Quebec at the school level," he continued.
Bolduc met representatives from the English and French school board associations Wednesday afternoon to sell them on his proposals.
Members of English boards across Quebec were expected to be briefed Wednesday evening by their representatives, while those in the French boards will learn the details Thursday morning.
The low voter turnout in the school board elections held Nov. 2 is likely the catalyst for Bolduc’s new school board scenario.
Going into the election, Bolduc warned that voter turnout would be crucial in determining the future of school boards.
The day after the elections were held, he said a transformation was coming for the school board system in Quebec.
"This weak turnout shows that the current structure does not reflect the needs of the population," he said on Nov. 3.