NEWS

Sombre day at EMSB schools set to close

01/12/2012 07:14 EST | Updated 03/13/2012 05:12 EDT

It was a glum Thursday for parents, students and teachers at several English Montreal schools that will definitely close at the end of the year.

The English Montreal School Board voted Wednesday night to close Fraser Academy in Ville-St-Laurent, St. Brendan Elementary in Rosemont and St. John Bosco Elementary in Ville-Émard.

The closures come after months of debate and public consultations.

St. John Bosco teacher Kathleen Rooney was emotional on her way into work Thursday morning.

"It's heartbreaking — I'm sorry I'm gonna cry now...It's really sad for all of us. It's a great school and we all love coming here every day."

St. John Bosco has served its Ville-Émard neighbourhood for fifty years, and many parents with students at the school attended themselves.

"I feel very sad because this is my community," said father Peter DeVito, whose daughter Janet is in Grade 3. "I went to this school. I'm very sad."

The EMSB is recommending that St. John Bosco parents send their children to St. Gabriel School in Pointe-St-Charles next year.

DeVito and other parents say they would rather switch school boards and send their children to school in nearby LaSalle.

Some St. Bosco parents said they are discussing possible legal action if they can find a lawyer who will represent them for free.

At St. Brendan's, parents are concerned about losing the school's special education program.

"The kids are used to functioning in a small environment and a comfortable environment," said Judith Moravito, who has two sons at St. Brendan's. "Putting them in a larger school - we don't know how that's going to turn out."

Other schools under EMSB review will remain open, but the victory was bittersweet in many cases.

Julie Barlow, who has been fighting for months to keep Nesbitt School open, said despite the outcome she is still upset about the EMSB's decisions.

"I'm thrilled that Nesbitt is staying open, but [I'm] still angry that we were put through this process in the first place," said Barlow.

The EMSB has said school closures and relocation were inevitable because of declining enrolment.

Student enrolment has dropped 20 per cent over the last decade in EMSB schools.

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