Off-island English schools breathe sigh of relief with announcement of $300 million in new funding

Off-island English-language schools will soon have more resources as the provincial government announced $300 million in funding for projects related to the education system on Thursday.

Among those projects is a long-sought expansion for Reach, a St-Lambert school for special needs children.

“We finally get what our kids deserve,” said principal Marie-Helen Goyetche.

For five years, the school has been asking the government for funding, saying their enrollment has exploded with more families moving to the South Shore.

“Right now, we're spread out in five different in locations and, in September, (that will be) six,” said Goyetche. “We're growing, we're almost at 140 kids. People are leaving Montreal, coming to the South Shore, a lot more parents are proactive and getting their kids diagnosed earlier. They're sending them to us for early intervention, so when you put all these factors together, we are growing and we need to grow under one building so we can offer all those services to our kids at the same time.”

While the school has been rejected in the past, Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge said on Thursday that it's not “the day to look back, it's the day to look forward. This year, we had enough funds to accept their demand and it was a high priority for the school board.”

The $300 million will be spread among a dozen schools. At the Riverside School Board, that means the Harold-Napper Elementary School in Brossard will also be able to expand by adding eight classrooms.

“Our student population has remained steady for many years and it's growing,” said Riverside chairperson Dan Lamoureux. “Especially now, with four-year-old kindergarten, we need to have our schools... Our schools are almost all completely full.”

The additional funding also means a new elementary school for the Lester B. Pearson School Board, though the location has yet to be determined. 

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