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PROVINCE OF QUEBEC

MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING OF THE SIR WILFRID LAURIER SCHOOL BOARD HELD ON 1999-01-18

A Special meeting of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board was held in the Library of Rosemere High School, 530 Northcote, Rosemere, QC on Wednesday, 1999-01-18 19:30 hours, at which were present:

Steve Bletas, Chairman; William Pollock, Vice-Chairman; Natalie Auclair; Nazario Facchino, Walter Fogel, Linda Gagnon, Pierre Garofano, Glen Haines, Peter Haldimand, Steve Kmec, James McDougall, Nancy Rupnik, Morten Schrier, Mary Svotelis, and Edward Turchyniak, Commissioners; and Mario Gaulin and Pierre Niding, Parent Commissioners; and Dominic Martini, Director General.

Also present were: Robert Vallerand, Deputy Director General; Lorraine Archambault, Director of Financial Resources; Laiq Hanafi, Director of Educational Services; George Paquette, Supervisor of Transportation Services; Michael Stirrup, Director of Human Resources; Raymond Thivierge, Director of Material Resources; and Jocelyne Thompson-Ness, Recording Secretary. Many other persons were also in the audience.

 

Absent: Carolyn Curiale, Peter MacLaurin, Nick Milas, and Grace Nesi, Commissioners.

The Chairman called the meeting to order at 19:45 hours.

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting. He went on to remind those present that this meeting was called to receive briefs and answer questions as part of the consultation on the "Proposed School Transportation Zones for 1999-2000". He asked that it would be appreciated if everyone would respect his or her assigned time and that he would proceed by calling the representatives of the schools which had asked to be heard in the order which had been established.

 

1.0 ACCEPTANCE OF AGENDA:
990118-CA-00157

Edward Turchyniak MOVED THAT the agenda be accepted.

Carried unanimously

 

The Chairman invited Pierre Niding, Chairman of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board Parents’ Committee, to present the Parents’ Committee brief to the Council of Commissioners.

 

Mr. Niding presented the brief, as contained in Document #SWLSB-990118-001 which was deposited with each Commissioner, highlighting opposition to the fact that parents have been asked to assume more costs in the education of their child(ren) and lack of safety on public transportation.

 

He went on to note that the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board Parents’ Committee had conducted a survey of 2 279 students affected by the proposed rezoning and that a total of 911 families representing 1 233 students responded to the survey and that the survey of parents showed that 77% are in favour of maintaining yellow school buses.

 

In closing, Mr. Niding asked that other alternatives to what is contained in the proposed school transportation zones for 1999-2000 be considered.

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The Chairman thanked Mr. Niding for his presentation and invited John Dugal, Spokesperson for St-Jude Elementary School, to present the brief of his school’s Governing Board to the Council of Commissioners.

 

Mr. Dugal presented the brief, as contained in Document #SWLSB-990118-002, highlighting the fact that the St-Jude’s community feels that the students are being disenfranchised by not being able to select a Protestant or Catholic education that is legally provided for in the law, the unsafe street conditions in the Deux-Montagnes area during the winter months which creates many dangers for designated walkers, and, in support of Lake of Two Mountains High School, the strong ties that exist between Laval-Ouest and Deux-Montagnes.

 

He went on to present the Council of Commissioners with a map that, in the opinion of the St-Jude Governing Board, highlights several inconsistencies which exist within the school board policy.

 

In closing, Mr. Dugal asked that the Council of Commissioners should consider approaching the Ministère de l’Éducation about the unique transportation situation that exists for the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board and that the status quo be maintained for 1999-2000 and rezoning be completed in the 2000-2001 school year after intensive research and consultation has been done on the rezoning.

 

 

The Chairman thanked Mr. Dugal for his presentation and invited Ron Edwards, Spokesperson for Lake of Two Mountains High School, to present the brief of his school’s Governing Board to the Council of Commissioners.

 

Mr. Edwards presented the brief, as contained in Document #SWLSB-990118-003, asking that the Council of Commissioners give special consideration to Laval-Ouest residents who wish to send their child(ren) to Lake of Two Mountains High School as this community has formed close ties with Deux-Montagnes.

 

He went on to highlight the lack of safety provided by public transportation, the fact that the transportation deficit is not being evenly distributed among all schools of the board, and that the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board should approach the Ministère de l’Éducation for additional funding for transportation.

 

In closing Mr. Edwards asked that the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board show social responsibility and amend the existing proposal to keep the traditional Laval-Ouest community included with the Deux-Montagnes and Saint-Eustache area. Secondly, the Governing Board of Lake of Two Mountains High School feels that it is not only wrong of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board to shrug the financial burden onto the Laval parents, but immoral to put the students at high personal safety risk. Thirdly, should the school board refuse all compromise, the Lake of Two Mountains Governing Board would like the out-of-pocket expenses imparted on all Laval parents to be kept equal and to a minimum.

 

 

The Chairman thanked Mr. Edwards for his presentation and invited Steve Morgan, Spokesperson for McCaig Elementary School, to present the brief of his school’s Governing Board to the Council of Commissioners.

 

 

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Mr. Morgan thanked everyone for coming to the meeting and proceeded to provide the Council of Commissioners with a brief history of the McCaig Elementary School. He went on to highlight the fact that the school is currently overpopulated and that the number of students being rezoned to McCaig under the proposed rezoning plan cannot be accommodated unless the school is extended and that the current arrangement of using Rosemere High School to handle the overflow is unacceptable. He noted that the McCaig students currently housed at Rosemere High School are not in a secure environment, they are apart from the McCaig unit and are not provided all the services available at McCaig.

 

 

He went on to remind the Council of Commissioners that the community elected them and should support its concerns and vote against the proposed school transportation zones for 1999-2000

 

 

The Chairman thanked Mr. Morgan for his presentation and invited Albert Fink, Spokesperson for Rosemere High School, to present the brief of his school’s Governing Board to the Council of Commissioners.

 

Mr. Fink presented the brief, as contained in Document #SWLSB-990118-004, highlighting the fact that the Rosemere Governing Board feels that not enough consultation time was granted for this issue, that the best interests of the students should come first, and that the proposed policy intrudes into Rosemere High School as a community school. He went on to decry the effect of rezoning on a student in his/her last year of high school, the school board’s lack of long term planning, and questioned the actual capacity of the school. He also asked what has happened to free transportation.

 

 

He inquired if it is possible to trim the budgets of other services to cover the costs and indicated that the parents of Rosemere High School would support the school board in pressuring the Ministère de l’Éducation to provide additional funding for transportation services.

 

Mr. Fink continued noting the Rosemere High School Governing Board’s support for McCaig Elementary in its objection to mixing elementary and secondary students in the same building as this arrangement is not considered pedagogically sound by the community. He went on to note the lack of security, services and interaction between the students annexed to Rosemere High School and those at McCaig.

 

In closing, Mr. Fink presented a petition to the Chairman opposing the proposed school transportation zones for 1999-2000. He also advised the Council of Commissioners that the Rosemere High School Governing Board, the students, parents, and staff that it represents are opposed to the transfer of its Laval students to Laval high schools.

 

 

The Chairman thanked Mr. Fink for his presentation and invited Lisa Brunetti, Spokesperson for John F. Kennedy Elementary School, to present the brief of her school’s Governing Board to the Council of Commissioners.

 

Mrs. Brunetti presented the brief, as contained in document #SWLSB-990118-005, highlighting the fact that the John F. Kennedy Elementary School community believes that the proposed school transportation zones for 1999-2000 will be detrimental to the students of the school, that the school board

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should make decisions concerning students with what is best for them not in terms of dollars and cents, and that the school board should maintain the status quo with regard to the students from Ste-Dorothée.

She also stated that if the status quo could not be maintained, then the school board should guarantee that students currently enrolled at John F. Kennedy and their sibilings be allowed to attend John F. Kennedy contingent on parents providing transportation to and from the school.

 

 

The Chairman thanked Mrs. Brunetti for her presentation and invited Wayne Riddell, Spokesperson for Laval Catholic High School, to present the brief of his school’s Governing Board to the Council of Commissioners.

 

Mr. Riddell presented the brief, as contained in Document #SWLSB-990118-006, highlighting the fact that Laval Catholic High School and Sacred Heart Middle School share common facilities, premises, and confessionality; the fact that students currently enrolled in Sacred Heart Middle School should have the right to graduate from Laval Catholic High School, and expressed concern of the impact rezoning will have on academic success and the infringement of the choice of parents to have their children educated in a Catholic school.

He continued by presenting the Council of Commissioners with alternatives that the Laval Catholic High School Governing Board feels are feasible for reducing the number of buses that currently transport students to Laval Catholic High School and Sacred Heart Middle School.

 

 

The Chairman thanked Mr. Riddell for his presentation and invited Lucy Simitsakos, Spokesperson for Souvenir Elementary School, to present the brief of her school’s Governing Board to the Council of Commissioners.

 

Mrs. Simitsakos presented the brief, as contained in Document #SWLSB-990118-007, highlighting the fact that the school has surveyed the parents involved in the school are against the proposed use of public tranportation for high school students, the danger that the students will be placed while taking public transportation, and their opposition to another change to the starting time of the school because the parents consider that the rezoning and change of starting times will infringe on family life.

In closing Mrs. Simitsakos read a resolution from the Souvenir Elementary School Governing Board which states the school’s opposition to any starting time prior to 8 h 30, in the interests of safety , family life and financial impact on the parents and children served by this school board.

 

Mrs. Simitsakos introduced Don Barrett, Teacher Representative on the Souvenir Governing Board.

 

Mr. Barrett advised the Council of Commissioners of the teachers’ opposition to the proposed change in starting time at Souvenir Elementary School, noting that the proposed earlier starting time violates the teachers’ union local arrangements.

 

The Chairman thanked Mrs. Simitsakos and Mr. Barrett for their presentations and invited Anna Reist, Spokesperson for Twin Oaks Elementary School, to present the brief of her school’s Governing Board to the Council of Commissioners.

 

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Mrs. Reist presented the brief, as contained in Document #SWLSB-990118-008, highlighting the unacceptable walking distance of 1.6 km and their objection to mixed bus loads as proposed in the Transportation Policy, the lack of reassurance that the 50% subsidy for a bus pass will not decrease over the years, the additional financial burden placed on Laval parents while the rest of the territory remains status quo, the lack of safety for students who will have to use public transportation, and the removal of freedom of choice when selecting a school for one’s child(ren).

 

She continued by stating that the school board does not have the right to dictate what constitutes a school’s community and expressed the fear that more English schools will close if the school boards keep shuffling students about. She asked that the school board consider implementing a transportation fee per year for the entire board.

 

She went on to advise the Council of Commissioners that the Governing Board of Twin Oaks Elementary School feel that further study on the school transportation zones needs to be conducted and that an honest long-term plan needs to be formulated.

 

 

The Chairman thanked Mrs. Reist for her presentation and invited Adrienne Yeremian, Spokesperson for Crestview Elementary School, to present the brief of her school’s Governing Board to the Council of Commissioners.

 

Mrs. Yeremian presented the brief, as contained in Document #SWLSB-990118-009, highlighting the fact the proposed rezoning does not take into account the unique factors of Crestview Elementary School, the educational programs specific to the school that are not available at other schools, the special needs program, and the emotional effect on students and their learning.

 

She went to propose that the existing transportation service be extended for at least one more year so that parents can gain more time to make new decisions for the enrollment year 2000-2001; and that parents whose children are currently at Crestview Elementary School and would like to remain at Crestview Elementary School should still have the option to continue sending their children to Crestview Elementary School provided they accept responsibility for providing transportation to and from the school.

 

In closing Mrs. Yeremian advised the Council of commissioners that a request from the Crestview School Council would be made for the school hours to be changed to 8 h 30 to 14 h 30.

 

 

The Chairman thanked Mrs. Yeremian for her presentation and invited Sherif Atallah, Spokesperson for Our Lady of Peace Elementary School, to present the brief of his school’s Governing Board to the Council of Commissioners.

 

Mr. Attallah presented a brief statement indicating that the families affected by the rezoning should be able to keep their children at Our Lady of Peace Elementary School as it was their choice to send their child(ren) to this school and that they should remain at the school for emotional and educational reasons.

 

 

The Chairman thanked Mr. Attallah for his presentation and invited Carole Pinsonneault, Spokesperson for Terry Fox Elementary School, to present the brief of her school’s Governing Board to the Council of Commissioners.

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Mrs. Pinsonneault presented the brief, as contained in Document #SWLSB-990118-010, highlighting the fact that Terry Fox Elementary School feels that the proposed change in starting time for the school be revised from 7 h 50 to 8 h 00.

 

She went on to note that though the Terry Fox Governing Board would prefer not to lose any of its students it suggested that the proposed rezoning of students west of Labelle to Twin Oaks be changed to rezone students west of Labelle to Our Lady of Peace.

 

She went on to request that a correction be made to the description of the Terry Fox School boundaries to read:

East of Autoroute 15 to North of Autoroute 440 and east of Labelle
North of Autoroute 440
North along Montée Monette
Follow the municipality line to the Mille-Îles river
South of the Mille-Îles river

 

 

The Chairman thanked Mrs. Pinsonneault for her presentation and invited Susan Lariviere, Spokesperson for Mountainview Elementary School, to present the brief of her school’s Governing Board to the Council of Commissioners.

 

Mrs. Larvière presented the brief, as contained in Document #SWLSB-990118-011, highlighting the fact that Mountainview Elementary School, although it does not have any students from Laval enrolled in its school, is still affected by the rezoning. She went on to express the school’s support of Lake of Two Mountains High School and St-Jude Elementary School in their endeavours to halt the proposed rezoning explaining the ties that exist between the three schools at a community and social level. She expressed concern for the safety of students in the "walking zone" and the need to respect the choice of a Protestant versus a Catholic education. She also did not want the special programs offered at Mountainview to be jeopardized.

 

A petition from the Mountainview Elementary School was presented to the Chairman with the suggestion that the school board pressure the Ministère de l'Éducation for additional funding for transportation.

 

The Chairman thanked Mrs. Larivière for her presentation and invited Earl Buttle, Spokesperson for Sacred Heart Middle School, to present the brief of his school’s Governing Board to the Council of Commissioners.

 

Mr. Buttle presented the brief, as contained in Document #SWLSB-990118-012, highlighting the fact that Sacred Heart Middle School is a Catholic school, that confessionality is apart of the school’s educational project, the need for quality education and fiscal responsibility in terms of offering services that are within acceptable financial limits.

 

In closing, Mr. Buttle asked that the Council of Commissioners consider offering those parents who live off island in the Deux-Montagnes area, the possibility of taking the Société de transport de Laval (STL) buses and reimburse those parents the proposed subsidy ($15,25/month) on the provision that parents transport their children to an area serviced by the S.T.L..

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He went on to suggest a manner in which the number of buses transporting children to Sacred Heart Middle School and Laval Catholic High School could be rearranged to reduce costs.

 

 

The Chairman thanked all those who participated in this evening’s meeting and handed the floor over to the Director General to answer the questions raised during the course of the meeting.

 

Mr. Martini advised those present that he would answer as many questions as he could but that the Supervisor of Transportation would first address the use of public transportation.

 

 

Mr. Paquette presented an overview of what is being proposed by the STL noting that there would be nine (9) buses specifically designated to serve Laval students and that in some cases the use of public transportation would cut down the travel time considerably. He showed several of the proposed routes.

 

He went on to advise that the STL have made guarantees for certain services including that a student will only have to make a maximum of one (1) transfer to or from school.

 

He went on to advise that representation has been made to the Ministère de l’Éducation by English school boards for additional funding for transportation as the territory of many English boards is extremely vast making it a struggle to provide transportation within the budget allocation.

 

He continued, noting that he had met with the new Ministre de l’Éducation, François Legault, and that the issue of transportation had been raised.

 

 

Mr. Martini went on to provide those present with an overview of how the transportation budget is created pointing out that it is devised from specific allocations from the Ministère de l’Éducation, additional Government grants, capital budget input, and special measure funding. It was noted that there areas of the transportation budget which are considered a loan and must be repaid over a period of time.

 

He pointed out that the school board had a revenue for transportation of six (6) million dollars, but was spending 6,9 million dollars. He suggested that it was important for the well being of the school board that the cost of transportation be reduced so as not to strain the system.

 

Mr. Martini noted that the school board is trying to look for solutions to the transportation issue without having to sacrifice funding from other budgets.

 

In response to a question concerning the school board budget, Mr. Martini noted that it is the role and right of the Council of Commissioners to prepare and adopt a budget. He advised that clarification on certain areas of the budget could be given after the revised budget is adopted on 1999-01-20.

 

To alleviate some concerns concerning the future of schools of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board, Mr. Martini assured that at this time there are no plans to close Lake of Two Mountains High School and that this had never been dicussed or contemplated by this Council of Commissioners.

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On the issue of the overflow of students at McCaig Elementary School, Mr. Martini noted that several options are being looked into including that the excess space at Rosemere High School be renovated to accommodate an annex of McCaig Elementary School.

He went on to describe how the McCaig students could be accomodated at Rosemere High School by providing an area isolated from the high school with separate entrances, playgrounds, and security.

Mr. Martini noted that consultation would be conducted with both McCaig Elementary School and Rosemere High School should the rezoning be accepted in order to determine what grades will be in the McCaig annex and which part of the building would be used.

In response to questions concerning the new Administration Centre, Mr Martini informed those present that representatives of the Ministère de l’Éducation have looked at all the options proposed by the school board.

Several parents present in the audience asked that the Council of Commissioners to consider allowing high school students who are graduating in 1999-2000 to remain in their current school; ensuring that there is a contingency plan for those who are being transported by STL, as they have a record on going on strike frequently; and charging a flat fee to all families of the school board for transportation, so that the deficit can be covered without having to disrupt the current status quo; before making its final decision on the proposed school transportation zones for 1999-2000:

990118-CA-0158

Edward Turchyniak MOVED THAT the meeting be extended for an additional twenty (20) minutes.

THIS MOTION WAS CARRIED ON THE FOLLOWING DIVISION:

YEA:

Natalie Auclair, Steve Bletas, Nazario Facchino, Linda Gagnon, Pierre Garofano, Glen Haines, Peter Haldimand, Steve Kmec, William Pollock, Nancy Rupnik, Morten Schrier, Mary Svotelis, Edward Turchyniak

NAY:

James McDougall

ABS:

Walter Fogel

In response to several questions about possible additional costs being placed on parents to help cover the transportation deficit, the Chairman advised that it is not the school board that is creating the deficit in transportation; it is being caused by the budget cuts being made by the government.

The Chairman thanked everyone for attending the meeting and noted that consideration will be given to all of the information received on the proposed school transportation zones for 1999-2000.

2.0 ADJOURNMENT OF MEETING:

Glen Haines MOVED adjournment of the meeting.

Carried unanimously

TIME: 22:50 hours

NEXT MEETING ð REGULAR ð 1999-02-17

 

______________________________

Robert Vallerand, Secretary General

__________________________

Steve Bletas, Chairman