EMSB has no choice but give up Galileo Centre: vice-chair

Quebec's Education Minister gave the English Montreal School Board and the Commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l'Île until May 1 to come up with a new proposal that would see the EMSB provide room for more than 150 classrooms for the overcrowded French board for the next school year.

That deadline has come and gone and the EMSB says it can't do anything more than what it's already put forward.

The English board proposed moving 140 special-needs students from the Galileo Adult Education Centre and giving a portion of the building to the French board, which would provide 57 new classrooms. After backlash from parents Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said no to the plan.

In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, vice-chair of the English Montreal School Board Joe Ortona says legally there are no other options.

Ortona explained that, in accordance with the Education Act, the transfer a youth sector school requires an 18-month consultation process on school closures. This ultimately means the EMSB can't legally transfer any of its schools to the CSPI.

The Galileo Adult Education Centre isn't technically a school; it's an adult education centre and only requires a 30-day consultation period. 

Ortona accused the Minister of playing some kind of political game, trying to force the EMSB to give up a school by September (which it can't legally do) in order to avoid potential backlash in the event  he were to just take it himself (similar to the Riverdale High School situation).

The vice-chair provided the newspaper with a detailed timeline of events which shows ministry officials were favourable to the original plan to move the Galileo students as early as February. The tone changed after parents of the special needs students raised their concern to the media.

The EMSB, CSPI and Education Minister are expected to meet on Friday to discuss the situation.