Barclay schoolyard to remain green

CSSDM decides to relocate Camille-Laurin annex students to main school

The Centre de services scolaire de Montréal (CSSDM) announced it would move students from Camille-Laurin annex to its main location on de l’Épée. Photo: CSSDM

After months of vocal concern by residents and parents around École Barclay on the possible relocation of students to modular classrooms in its schoolyard, the Centre de services scolaire de Montréal (CSSDM) decided on a different course of action.

In a letter addressed to parents and staff, the CSSDM announced on Feb. 17 that it would temporarily transfer students from Camille-Laurin annex to its main school on de l’Épée, during major renovations on the school.

The initial proposal was to relocate students to modular classrooms in the schoolyard at École Barclay, which is used by many residents as a park. 

Many people spoke out against the plan, decrying the school board’s lack of consultation with parents and residents, adding it would remove one of the few green spaces available in Park Extension.

Change in proposal 

In the letter, the school board indicated that major renovations were necessary at Camille-Laurin annex and would have to temporarily move approximately 300 students to another location. 

“As of the next school year, the Camille-Laurin annex school community will be relocated to temporary classrooms located on the Camille-Laurin school site at 8000 de l’Épée avenue.” read the letter. 

“According to the schedule, this relocation will last until the start of the 2024-2025 school year,” it added, indicating students will have to move for the better part of two years. 

These students will be accommodated in modular classrooms on school board property at École Camille-Laurin, as shown in this reference picture. Photo: CSSDM

Upgraded school

Because the main building at École Camille-Laurin is too small to accommodate all the new students coming from the annex location, one-story modular classrooms will be set up in the schoolyard. Pictures of these classrooms were included in the CSSDMs’ letter. 

Renovation work will upgrade the school with new ceilings, floors and walls, as well as a completely renovated sanitary block and a better supply of fresh air. Daycare and transport services will also be moved to the new location.

“Once the work on the Camille-Laurin annex school building is completed, our community will benefit from a healthy, safe and stimulating learning environment,” indicated the CSSDM.

“As of the next school year, the Camille-Laurin annex school community will be relocated to temporary classrooms located on the Camille-Laurin school site at 8000 de l’Épée avenue.” 

Lack of transparency

Although many in the neighbourhood are pleased with the new proposal, some parents and residents reiterated their disapproval of how the entire issue was dealt with. 

Some said the change would not have happened had it not been for local organizing against the initial plan to relocate students to the yard at École Barclay. An online petition against the initial plan garnered over 200 signatures. 

Einrika Siguineau is a resident with children who attend École Barclay and was behind the original petition. She is also Vice-President of the ​​Governing Board at École Barclay. 

“The experience I had with the CSSDM was enlightening, it was laborious and not very transparent,” said Siguineau on her interactions with the school board. “They acquiesced to our demands,” she added, but also said she feels that there are still no guarantees.

Starting in September, approximately 300 students will be relocated for a duration of two years. Photo: CSSDM

Desire for transparent consultation

Along with other parents, Siguineau indicated that they were not opposed to relocating students but wanted a transparent consultation among stakeholders to find the best solution. 

“The idea was to ask them whether they had thought of other options and if they had done an analysis,” explained Siguineau. “All they answered was it’s either this or were closing the school,” said Suigeneau, deploring the schoolboards unilateral approach. 

“Yes, we’re very happy they listened to us this time, but this isn’t finished,” she added. “With the work set for William-Hingston, they could come to us next year and say they will install modular classes [in Parc-École Barclay].”

Parc-École agreement 

Although she felt the borough remained sympathetic to their cause, Suigeneau pointed out the lack of power they had in this particular area given that the schoolyard at École Barclay remains CSSDM property. 

The greenspace is categorized as a Parc-école, a space that belongs to the school board but is used and maintained as a park. The agreement between the borough and the CSSDM expired several years ago. 

“At the Borough Council meeting held in November 2021, the Borough supported the beautification and renovation project for the redevelopment of the schoolyard of École Barclay,” said borough spokesperson Jeanine Giffa.

“This support enabled the CSSDM to submit a request for financial assistance to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEES), as part of the Programme de soutien aux infrastructures sportives et récréatives scolaires et d’enseignement supérieur (PSISRSES),” she continued.

Once this financial assistance is granted by the MEES, the official ratification of this sharing agreement between the borough and the school board will be able to move forward.

The school board will hold an information session and presentation for parents and staff in the spring to answer questions on how the reorganization will take place and how students will be affected. 

The initial plan to install modular classes at École Barclay was changed in favour of École Camille-Laurin. Photo: Matias Brunet-Kirk via Google Earth Pro