12/20/2012 11:06 EST | Updated 02/19/2013 05:12 EST

English school shares space with French students

At least one English school in Montreal will be sharing its building with students from the French system, following a decision by the English Montreal School Board to share its resources.

In preliminary talks earlier this fall, representatives for Montreal's French and English school boards discussed a proposal that would allow two underpopulated English schools — St. Dorothy Elementary and John Caboto Academy — to share their space with their overcrowded French counterparts — École Marie-Rivier and École St-Simon. The proposal would allow students to attend French classes that would be housed in the English school buildings.

Last night, the EMSB's board of governors voted to accept the proposal for St. Dorothy Elementary after parents voted in favour of the deal. The proposal for John Caboto was rejected by the board.

The new move means that about 60 pre-kindergarten students from Marie-Rivier will be taking classes at St. Dorothy next September.

"The CSDM and the EMSB have operated harmoniously in the same building very well … dating to the beginning of linguistic school boards," said Mike Cohen, spokesman for the EMSB.

The EMSB released an outline of how the space-sharing program would work earlier this fall.

According to the proposal, the French students would enter the school through a dedicated entry, which would open into a room with a locker area, an office and toilets. St. Dorothy also offered the use of its gym to the French students.

Governing board chairperson of St. Dorothy, Teresa Gullo, said an earlier plan to allow sixth-graders to take classes at Saint Dorothy was rejected.

"We figure four year olds are less [likely to get into] conflict with the other children. They're younger so they're easier to adjust to changes," she said.

According to Gullo, parents approved the plan with the understanding that it was a temporary three-year agreement.

Cohen said it's too early to tell if the French-English merger will be applied to other schools.