EMSB looking for students to fill schools in Montreal’s east end


In a bid to stem declining enrolment at its east-end schools, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) has started a campaign touting the benefits of an English public school. It involves having successful former students, such as Sen. Tony Loffreda, visit the institutions to speak to students and staff.On Tuesday Loffreda visited Laurier Macdonald High School in the city’s Saint-Leonard borough.He’s a former student of St. Pius X High School, which closed in 2005 and is one of a number of EMSB schools forced to shut because of low enrolment.“I hope the registration does increase in the English Montreal School Board,” Loffreda said, praising the French education at his former school. “We learned French, practised French and that is serving me to this day.” Story continues below advertisement The aim of the campaign, school board officials say, is to help convince families to choose these institutions.“We’re putting a particular focus on our schools in the east end,” explained EMSB chair Joe Ortona.  “Families are moving off-island and so we’ve been seeing a trend of declining enrolment.”In 2020, three other east-end schools closed: General Vanier Elementary, St. Dorothy Elementary and John Paul I Junior High School.Laurier Macdonald student Vincenzo Paolella, 16, was affected by two of those closures.“When the change happened I was graduating Grade 6 from General Vanier, and I was just going to Sec 1 at John Paul,” he told Global News.John Paul I Junior High School was eventually merged with Laurier Macdonald, which is now having its own enrolment challenges“Definitely our enrolment has gone down in recent years,” said principal Cristina Celzi. “I think the main issue we have is the area. The surrounding area used to have many kids that had eligibility, and there’s fewer and fewer every year.”She pointed out that the 1,000-student-capacity building now houses just over 600 pupils. Story continues below advertisement Paolella worries about another school closure and feels that government policy needs to change to help counter falling enrolment.“I feel like students coming into Quebec should be given the opportunity to attend our schools,” he said.In Quebec, under Bill 101, Quebec’s Charter of the French, language all children, including immigrants, must be educated in French until they finish high school, unless they meet certain criteria. &copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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