By Robert Frank
Quebec’s Education Ministry wants to force the province’s school boards to close their sparsely populated schools by in September, Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) chair Suanne Stein Day told The Suburban.
“The government said that it won’t fund those schools’ capital improvements because they’re operating at less than 50 per cent capacity,” she said in an interview. “This is an attack on the [province’s] English school boards.”
The province wants to force those schools to close by September, if they’re within 20 km of another school, Stein Day explained. That is a predicament that is largely unique to Quebec’s English schools, where the province’s language laws restrict enrolment.
“It’s not generally a problem that the province’s French school boards face,” she observed.
In March, LBPSB embarked on a round of public consultation about potential school mergers that was supposed to last until Oct. 31. Stein Day said at the time that four of the board’s high schools were hovering at or below the Education Ministry’s 50 per cent capacity threshold.
Although LBPSB enrolment is steadily sagging, in the off-island communities west of Montreal its schools are straining to accommodate the burgeoning population there.
“We’ve gone back to the government and asked to postpone school closures to next year,” Stein Day reported.