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EMSB parents cautiously optimistic
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 12 janvier 2012

Some parents are cautiously optimistic in the wake of breaking news that the EMSB Long Range Planning Committee appears to be backing off plans to close, merge, or relocate all of the schools that went up for consultation in November.

On Jan. 11 commissioners will debate, then vote on the recommendations of the committee as to which schools will see changes. The meeting will be held at Rosemount High School in Rosemont.

Liz Leaman, commissioner for Ward 9 where Carlyle School is located, is optimistic that commissioners will vote to maintain their school in the Mount Royal/Saint-Laurent sector rather than merging it with Coronation School in Côte-des-Neiges. This change would cause Carlyle to lose its candidate status as an IB PYP school, one which offers an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program.

IB World Schools offer a high quality, challenging international education for the 21st century, a perfect fit for Carlyle’s multicultural population of students who have in excess of 20 mother tongues and 40 countries of origin. Carlyle’s request for candidate status was officially granted by IB Americas on April 30, 2010, but its final accreditation could be jeopardized if it is relocated, according to Leaman.

Initially, Carlyle was put up for consultation because it had fewer than 200 students, one of the EMSB’s criteria for closing or merging schools. However, in its presentation to the EMSB, Carlyle’s governing board chairperson Daniella Rohan said that their board wasn’t given the time to implement the change of program from Core to IB PYP that the EMSB’s own rules require. Instead, Carlyle was slated for consultation and possible closure.

Still, Carlyle parents have put up the good fight. Leaman said that it is well-known that they have sought legal counsel, although she isn’t privy to any information about legal strategies that the governing board might pursue in the event that the school is forced to merge with Coronation.

Proposed changes are playing out against the backdrop of rumours of a possible merger between the EMSB and the Lester B. Pearson Board to consolidate the position of the English educational sector in the likelihood that some English schools may be given to the French board of the Commission scolaire de Montréal. The CSDM needs more schools to accommodate its increasing enrolment in the French sector.

However, declining enrolment in the English sector is a flashpoint for many anglophone parents who feel that their school commissioners haven’t fought for the English-speaking community’s interests.
Things might be looking up though for a number of schools at the EMSB on the cusp of the crucial vote on school closings.

The EMSB has just announced that its Long Range Planning Committee now recommends closing three schools instead of six. The committee has also backed off on several proposals to relocate schools and programs.

No final decisions have been made yet. But commissioners will have voted on the proposals by the time this newspaper hits the newsstands. There is a possible extension of the meeting to the next day, Jan. 12, if it goes into overtime.

The three schools threatened with closing that the board’s long-range planning committee now suggests should remain open are Nesbitt in Rosemont, Carlyle in Town of Mount Royal and James Lyng High School in St. Henri.

Also, there may be only one relocation, involving a satellite class for special needs students, instead of seven. Royal Vale’s high school might not be moved to Côte Saint-Luc.

[ Deborah Rankin ]

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