EMSB chair Angela Mancini has been given a mandate by the commissioners to negotiate cohabitation with the CSPI.
Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette
English parents whose children attend three east-end schools which could be transferred to a French school board are demanding that the English Montreal School Board negotiate a cohabitation agreement with the Commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Île.Two days after Education Minister Jean-François Roberge backed an anglophone/francophone cohabitation as a short-term solution, parents from two of the schools held a press conference Monday morning to say that cohabitation is the only way to save their schools.The schools are General Vanier Elementary School and John Paul I Junior High School in St-Léonard, and Gerald McShane Elementary School in Montreal North. Roberge has given the EMSB until June 10 to come up with an agreement to help solve the overcrowding crisis at French public schools in the east end.There are 3,000 CSPI students who will not have classrooms come September unless a deal is reached.Roberge said his office has been flooded with calls and messages from worried parents who oppose the transfers. Roberge conceded chronic infighting at the EMSB has not helped in the current crisis and urged parents to keep up the pressure.“I really hope both school boards will come to an agreement and find a solution so I won’t have to transfer those three schools,” he said on Saturday. “We are really open-minded and we hope some cohabitation could be a short-term solution.”EMSB chair Angela Mancini has been given a mandate by the commissioners to negotiate cohabitation with the CSPI.However, Miville Boudreault, the president of the CSPI, has already rejected the cohabitation plan, saying that it does not come close to providing the French board with the classroom space it needs for September or in the coming years.In a video message posted on the board’s website May 17, Boudreault said cohabitation is complicated, adding “that it has too many negative aspects and too few positive ones.”Boudreault said all the board’s high schools will be full by next year and said one high school is approaching 2,700 students.He said the board’s student population has exploded over the past few years because of changing demographics, an increase in the number of classes requiring smaller student-teacher ratios and a huge influx of children whose parents have come to Quebec to seek asylum.Boudreault said his board has been negotiating with the EMSB for years, but were never able to agree on concrete solutions.Last week, commissioners at the EMSB voted in favour of moving special-needs students at the Galileo Adult Education Centre as a way of helping the CSPI cope with overcrowding. The decision was made despite Roberge’s rejection of this idea because he is opposed to relocating the 140 special-needs students.This story will be updated.Related