This summer in Repentigny, a city decision to build a new French school right next to an English one sparked outrage. Angry parents went to council meetings, handed out flyers, and launched a social media campaign against the construction of the new French school.
French school board president asks anglophones in Repentigny to “have a heart”
“The issue is Repentigny is a vibrant and growing community not only for the English but for the French sector,” said Jennifer Maccarone, chairwoman of the Sir Wilfrid School Board.
“So what happened is that both school boards have to accommodate that growth.”
Franklin Hill is Repentigny’s only English school. It is currently at 97 per cent capacity, and the Sir Wilfrid School Board predicts it’ll be over full capacity by next year. The school has put in a request to expand, and there were concerns the construction of the new French school would make that impossible.
“For enlargement, we do need all of our land, and the land isn’t only for the buildings and the infrastructure — it’s to accommodate additional items, such as a kindergarten play-yard,” said Maccarone.
Franklin Hill parents were relieved when the city announced in late January that the original plan would be overturned. The new French school will instead be built just down the road, on a chunk of the Frederic-Coiteux park.
The decision comes after additional studies conducted by the Ministry of Education concluded the number of students expected to enroll in the new French school would surpass initial estimates.
“We are now looking to build a school that would accommodate 700 students,” explained Repentigny mayor Chantal Deschamps.
“At first, we thought there would only be 400, so the land next to Franklin Hill would have been too small.”
The French school board says it is glad a final decision has been reached.
“We have to go fast, so the option was very good for us, because we have to build the school as fast as we can,” said Eric Ladouceur, spokesperson for the Commission Scolaire des Affluents.
The city promises to keep all the parks amenities, including the park’s beloved hill, the soccer field, and the skating rink. With this new plan, Franklin Hill should be able to expand.
“We’re happy we’re going to be able to see that growth. Its great to see an English school board growing, that’s something that’s wonderful news for our community in general,” said Maccarone.
And she says it’s great to see the French side has also found a viable solution. The new school is set to open next September.