School boards want guidelines on which fees they can charge parents

Montreal's main English- and French-language school boards are banding together and calling on Quebec's education minister to sit down with them to establish clear guidelines on school fees.

The English Montreal School Board, Lester B. Pearson School Board, Commission Scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys, Commission Scolaire de Montreal and Commission Scolaire de Pointe-de-l'Île held a joint news conference expressing their concerns about what fees they can charge and for what activities or materials in the wake of a class action lawsuit alleging illegal school fees.

A government commission is expected to make recommendations on school fees in mid-December.

The boards said they want to make sure their concerns and opinions were heard as well.

The boards said they need some kind of standardized list and they're worried that if they can't charge any fees at all, they won't be able to offer any extra-curricular activities.

The boards said the Education Act stipulating free education services, textbooks and instructional material hasn't been revised in 50 years and doesn't take into account new technologies, advanced or enriched educational programs or the reality of Montreal island schools that now deal with higher poverty rates, more newcomers and increased competition from more private schools.