Special needs, taxes priority
By Joel Ceausu
“We’re not an alternative,” says Jennifer Maccarone, announcing her candidacy for chair of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board. “We’re actually the right choice.”
Maccarone and her EducACTION team launched their bid to lead Laval’s English board at a press conference last Wednesday, where the board’s Central Parents Committee chairperson told supporters and reporters she would not campaign by criticizing the existing council, but rather by presenting a fresh approach.
“I have no intention of stating platitudes today. I want to state facts.”
“In the past four years, Sir Wilfrid Laurier has been dealt over $5.5 million in budget cuts, with close to $2.3 million this year alone,” she said, adding that the board must continue to build partnerships to bring in more revenue and “we will not cut services to our students.”
A parent of two special needs children attending SWL schools, and herself chair of an advisory committee on special education, Maccarone stressed that at-risk children will be a priority for her personally and her team, which is comprised of candidates with children in SWL schools or who graduated as recently as last year, including four incumbents and a sitting Laval city councillor.
Her slate includes Georges Benoit (Ward 1), Guy Gagnon (Ward 3), Anne McMullon Panet-Raymond (Ward 4), Dean Dugas (Ward 5), Emilio Migliozzi (Ward 6), Vicky Kaliotzakis (Ward 7), Elio Lattanzio (Ward 8) and St. Vincent de Paul city Councillor Paolo Galati (Ward 9), who said that being a member of both a school board and city council can bring practical benefits, but agreed that conflicts could arise: “It could be a connection when it’s land related” he said. “If that were ever the case, I would divulge and back away. I would not be a part of it and I would never put myself in a conflict.” Maccarone is not contesting Ward 2, held by Robert Dixon, who she calls “a formidable commissioner that I respect and hope to work with.”
Amid woeful tales of declining enrolment among Quebec’s English boards, the Chomedey resident told The Suburban “We’ve seen a recent decline, but we are expecting 17,000 students by 2025. That’s huge,” and sets a challenge for the board as it looks to expand its service offering. “One thing we need to include is an alternative, ‘240-status’school offering an enriched curriculum,” the kind of school she says parents are increasingly looking for. “There’s currently an exodus of students to those types of schools.”
After spending seven years on the parents committee Maccarone says the board “needs to start leveraging it as a valuable resource. Until now it has been mostly an advisory body but there are so many dedicated and resourceful individuals involved and we are not using them to their full potential.”
She said her administration would fight for equal taxation across the territory by “working to convince the government, based on partnerships we have already built, to establish an equal system.”
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