Education Minister to EMSB: Pick a school to give up or I will

Quebec's Education Minister has given the English Montreal School Board a deadline to give up one of its east end schools so it can be used to help overcrowding at a French school board.

On Wednesday Minister Jean-François Roberge told reporters the EMSB has until the end of the month to decide which of its schools it will hand over to the Commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l'île. The French board is in need of 150 new classrooms by the fall.

The English board just happened to be meeting that night, where EMSB chairman Angela Mancini said Roberge has not sent any official notice of a deadline. Mancini and board members only found out about the deadline when it made headlines in the media.

The problem for the EMSB: transferring schools requires an 18-month consultation period with parents, making it impossible to hand over one of its from Saint-Leonard, Rivière-des-Prairies, Montreal North or Anjou in time for the fall.

"Closing schools, handing over schools is not an option," vice-chair Joe Ortona told CTV Montreal. "I've even gone one step further than we really have to by saying 'let's look at the possibility of swapping schools where we can maintain our footprint in the English community.'"

If the EMSB fails to find a solution the Education Minister said he would impose his own solution, which could range from sharing buildings or forcing the English board to give up the buildings of his choice.

Chair Angela Mancici said co-habitation could work and that consultations need to be held with the parents of students at the schools in the proposed areas.