P.E.I.'s lack of funding for French school projects 'disturbing,' says board

P.E.I.'s French Language School Board says it is surprised and disappointed because the province is not funding construction projects in Abram-Village and Summerside.

'Significant investments' have been made in French education in last decade, counters province

Parts of Evangeline School are more than 50 years old. (Province of P.E.I.)

P.E.I.'s French Language School Board says it is surprised and disappointed that the province is not funding construction projects in Abram-Village and Summerside in its current capital budget.

Board president Emile Gallant said the situation is perplexing, because the province recognizes the board's right to manage French education in the province.

"[They say] you have a right to have Grade 10, 11, 12, and it's your authority to make those decisions, but no funding was made available for both operational and capital cost. It's a little disturbing," said Gallant.

"These children are not getting a French education that they have a right to have."

Old facilities costing the board students

The board is losing students to English schools, Gallant said, because it lacks facilities such as science labs and industrial arts classrooms.

The two projects put forward by the board would add rooms to École-sur-Mer in Summerside, and renovate Evangeline School in Abram-Village, which is more than 50 years old.

These school projects have been discussed for years, says Gallant. (CBC)

The Evangeline School project would cost $15 million, but about half of that would be community centre components covered by the federal government, said Gallant. The École-sur-Mer project would cost about $3 million.

The capital budget for 2017-18 does include continued funding for renovations at École La-Belle-Cloche in Souris, as well as Three Oaks Senior High School, for a total of almost $25 million.

'Significant investments'

The province responded Monday evening, saying via email that it's made "significant investments" in French education and pointing out it has spent more than $35 million on French school infrastructure since 2007. 

"The 2017-2018 capital priorities for the French Language School Board are the $9 million French school in Souris which is expected to be completed in 2017," the email states.

"We are also building a new band room at Ecole-sur-Mer at a cost of $420,000, which will also open in 2017. New projects are not being added until these are complete."

The projects have been under discussion for several years, Gallant said.

He plans to ask for an emergency meeting with the premier on the issue this week.

With files from Laura Meader