By Tracey Arial
Louise Lortie speaks English more readily now than she did at the beginning of the campaign. The woman who wants to continue chairing the Commission scolaire de Laval has been meeting lots of English-speaking voters going door-to-door, particularly in Chomedey.
So what’s the question that she gets most often?
“Why should I bother voting? I don’t think school boards should exist,” voters tell her.
“People already don’t vote and the CAQ is trying to get even fewer to mark a ballot,” says Lortie. “It’s not right. If you don’t like what cities are doing, do you wipe out the municipalities? No. You get in there and change things.”
It seems an unusual attitude for an incumbent, but Lortie says that she’s not afraid of reexamining how the school board does things and changing things around. She says that her leadership has helped her board attain the fourth lowest cost of administration in the system at 3.17 per cent in 2013 and the lowest drop-out rate, 17.7 per cent, in its history.
“There are always things we can do better,” she said. “We always have to question our activities and figure out how to do them better—and with fewer resources. In the last two years, we’ve been reorganizing our services to students with special needs, for example. Every child has the possibility to succeed and take his place in the community, no matter what challenges they have. We have to come up with new ways to serve them.”
Her opponent for chair, Jacques Foucher, has been living first-hand with those changes through his youngest child. The boy is only seven years old and in Grade 2, but he’s already been moved to three different schools and five different classrooms so far. Foucher says that each time his son was moved, his parents had to make new principals and teachers understand his son’s needs.
“We need to focus on the children,” says Foucher. “For them, school is everything. I know one student who was studying in refrigeration but after a year, they cancelled the course without even allowing the students who started the course to finish. These decisions are so impersonal. There’s got to be a better way.”
He says that people with these types of complaints should be able to track who’s handling their complaint and how long it will take for a resolution so that children aren’t bounced from place to place without anyone realizing what’s going on. Such a tracking system is among the first things his team will put into place if they get elected on Nov. 2.
Foucher says he’ll pay for such initiatives from the $250,000 the board will save when it pulls out of the Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec (FCSQ).
Foucher is also an artist and says that in that role, he’s visited 700-800 schools. He plans to bring the best practices from those visits to the Laval education system.
Both Lortie and Foucher say that their role as parents got them involved in the system. Both say they are committed to making schools work better. Learn more about Lortie at her campaign page, www.equipelouiselortie.com. Learn more about Foucher at his campaign page, www.equipejacquesfoucher.ca
By Tracey Arial