Parents protest plans to move Montreal’s Galileo Adult Education Centre

Parents, teachers and students of Galileo Adult Education Centre in Montreal protested outside the school Friday morning.

English Montreal School Board (EMSB) officials want to relocate the entire school, likely to St. Pius X Career Centre in Ahuntsic. The centre’s current facility would then be used to accommodate students from overcrowded schools in the French-language school board of Pointe-de-l’Île.

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“In the 20 years that we’ve worked with Pointe-de-l’Île, we’ve always had a good relationship,” EMSB vice-chairman Joe Ortona told Global News.

But those at Galileo worry the move could put students’ futures in jeopardy, particularly those of the special needs students.

“I’m concerned that there won’t be another place that they’ll put them in,” said Letizia Matteo, who has a 24-year-old son at the school. There are over 140 special needs students at Galileo, and parents say relocating them would be hard.

“They need stability,” explained Matteo. “Moving them to another school, to another location, it’s going to disrupt their (education) because they need routine.”

She says it took her autistic son more than six months to get used to travelling to Galileo.

EMSB commissioner Sylvia Lo Bianco agrees that it would be tough.

“The parents might decide that this new centre or whatever place they may be directed to is not adequate or too far, and they may end up not going,” Lo Bianco said.

She says not enough is being done to consider all possibilities.

“Why are we offering just Galileo when the (French-language) school board territory covers Saint-Leonard, Montreal North, Anjou, (Rivière-des-Prairies) and Pointe-aux-Trembles?” Lo Bianco added.

EMSB officials say they want to do their best to ensure a smooth transition for students.

“All the employees are going to keep their jobs, and the services are going to be continued to be provided, just as they were before,” said Ortona.

The proposal for the move will be presented at a special EMSB board meeting next Wednesday, after which consultations will begin.

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