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More English schools needed in CDN-NDG
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 26 janvier 2012

The English Montreal School Board just voted to close three of its schools, but Snowdon city councillor Marvin Rotrand says that they should have first taken a look at the demographics of growth in Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

In an opinion piece published in The Suburban on Dec. 14, 2011 Rotrand said that a construction boom in Snowdon is adding thousands of new residents to the area, a fact that the EMSB failed to properly take into account when it decided to trim its network of schools in the face of declining enrolment.

«The EMSB may be surprised that many of the new residents in Snowdon originate from the West Island, Saint-Laurent and Laval, and many of them are indeed eligible to register their children for English-language public schooling,» he said.

He cited several areas where housing construction is projected, most notably in The Triangle district, formerly called Namur/Jean-Talon, with 1000 new residents in the past year. The borough is also approving permits for 3200 more housing starts for the new neighbourhood, which will add more than 5000 residents by 2015.

Another plum location is the Hippodrome de Montréal that the Quebec government closed. The borough plans to redevelop the former Blue Bonnets Raceway site for housing, and the land could potentially see as many as 5000-10,000 units built, depending on heights and densities determined by public consultations.

Rotrand said that additional projects are in the works for the area near the McGill super-hospital in NDG, and highlighted the fact that the borough has a population of 165,000 and its growth rate dwarfs that of the City of Côte Saint-Luc with 32,000 residents.

Recently, Côte Saint-Luc mayor Anthony Housefather made a presentation to the EMSB during the consultation on the proposed move of NDG’s Royal Vale High School to neighbouring Côte Saint-Luc, stressing his city’s growth potential and ability to attract new residents because of superior athletic and cultural facilities. Côte Saint-Luc’s population grew by 3.2% over the last five years.

In his presentation to the EMSB, CDN-NDG mayor Michael Applebaum told commissioners that the borough is forecasting a population growth of between 32,000 and 35,000 people over the next decade.

However, these optimistic demographic forecasts didn’t deter EMSB commissioners from closing some schools. There were tears of joy and sorrow at Rosemount High School when the final decisions came down on Jan. 13. Commissioners voted to close St. John Bosco in Ville-Émard, St-Brendan in Rosemont, and Fraser Academy in Saint-Laurent, but voted to keep Royal Vale in NDG. Royal Vale HS is a K-11 school offering an enriched program in math and sciences in a French immersion environment.

In a stunning turnaround commissioners first voted to merge Carlyle Elementary in Mount Royal with Coronation School in Côte-des-Neiges, putting Carlyle’s much-vaunted efforts to secure International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program status in jeopardy. This verdict was unexpected, as the EMSB’s long-range planning committee had just released its recommendation that Carlyle stay put. The about-face prompted commissioner Liz Leaman to accuse the board of block voting. Then, in a subsequent vote, the board reversed its original decision.

Jim Pfaus, chairman of Royal Vale HS’s governing board, said that he was relieved that Royal Vale HS wouldn’t be moved and was pleased that the EMSB had agreed to pursue Applebaum’s suggestion to strike a task force to explore the possibilities of creating a brand new school in Côte Saint-Luc.

Commissioner Julian Feldman, referring to an editorial in The Gazette the same day about the need for increasing enrolment in the English sector, said that the EMSB should be taking its cues from the «richness of the entrepreneurial spirit» of Carlyle School which had been «trailblazing» in seeking international accreditation as an IBP school.

[ Deborah Rankin ]

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