I am writing to you today because I think that parents in the Saint-Lazare area should know some of the information I have come across regarding how theLBPSB has dealt with the overcrowding situation at Forest Hill Jr.
First, the board did not follow its own enrollment criteria. The criteria specifically states: “…In the event that the school becomes full and cannot accept all Category 4 students [Students residing inside the school’s attendance
zone(s)], those who live closest to the school will be accepted before students who live further from the school. The proximity rule will be used to accept students in the remaining categories when needed.”This is not what the Board has
done. They have admitted children (without siblings) to Forest Hill Jr. that live further from the school than some of the 32 children being shipped off to Mount Pleasant.
The Board’s argument is that they did follow their enrollment criteria because technically these children are still part of Forest Hill. Forest Hill’s legal address is in Saint-Lazare, not Hudson, so I would argue that they
are stretching the elastica little too thin. Secondly, the school kept 14 spots (two per class) open after the formal registration period closed for new people moving into the area. When I asked the Board to provide me
with an approved written policy that states this requirement, I was informed that no such thing existed, that it was just something they did. So basically, they were keeping spots open for new residents instead of giving them to current
residents residing within and ingrained in the community. How did it make more sense to ship 32kids to Mount Pleasant when they had room to accommodate 14 of them in Forest Hill? Bear in mind that some of these 32 kids live a six minute car ride or less from the Forest Hill Jr campus. Somehow it made more sense for a child from outside the town to go to Forest Hill over a child who can hear the school bells ring from his own back yard. I recently contacted the Board regarding these 14spots and was told that since May, there were eight new registrants leaving only six spots for new students moving into the area.
Do they really expect me to believe that eight new kindergartners moved into the area since May? Or were some spots given to existing residents who registered late but who are part of areas not zoned for transfer to Mount Pleasant?
If the latter is the case, then it is completely contrary to what the Board said they would do regarding late registrations at the meeting they held at Forest Hill Jr in April. The enrolment criteria states: “Students shall be registered
in an elementary school during the for-mal registration period in February, 2009 in the following order of priority, according to the capacity of the school and the space available at each grade level….”I would not have any problem with my child going to Mount Pleasant (in the Forest Hill satellite class) if the Board were telling me he would be going there until Grade 6 or at least until the new school was built. This is not however the case. The Board and the schools
have been very clear that there is not enough room to accommodate all of the kindergarten children once they get to Grade 1in either school. They simply keep stating that when they build the new school, all the kids will be rezoned. I have consistently asked for a Plan B in the event that they do not get their long awaited piece of land. They as yet have not made (or are not sharing) any formal plans, stating they are confident that a new school will be built on time. Seeing as this has been an issue for four years now, I do not share their confidence. I was recently informed that one possible Plan B is to put these Grade 1 students in the empty wing at Westwood Jr. If this is true, I don’t know about other parents, but I just cannot accept that my Grade 1, 6year-old child will be in the same play-ground as 13 year-olds.
I want the Board to deal with this situation and tell the community officially what the plan is for these children when Grade 1 comes around, should the new school not be ready. Also, I feel that a formal explanation as to why they went against part of their enrollment criteria(namely criteria #4) would be appropriate.
A Concerned Parent
Source: Your Local Journal
June 11, 2009