Letter to the editor 4, March 19, 2015

Dear Editor,

Soon the Quebec government will present its 2015 budget that will, undoubtedly, include cutbacks in education. Allow me to link this belt-tightening with a vision of Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre that is aimed toward the greater good.

On October 31, 2014, all candidates running for commissioner or chairman of the Lester B. Pearson School Board received an email from the Badminton- Pierrefonds Club. The club had a request: “Can you find a way to make school board sports facilities available to the community during holidays?”

The club wanted to rent the Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School Field House (gymnasium) for its 275 junior and adult members during March Break 2015.

To make its case, the Club representative wrote:

• sports are an important aspect of education;

• many of its members are students, or are parents of students who attend LBPSB schools, and

• since the facilities are expensive and paid by the school and municipal taxpayer, it’s reasonable to make maximum use of them.

• moreover, there are other sports groups who wish to use the gym during holidays.

Very strong arguments, indeed. However, the board refused, basically, saying that administrative staff and caretakers are also on holidays. For sure, arrangements would have to be made but they would be of a “routine nature,” the Club wrote.

Meanwhile, Coderre has been pushing an idea, “a vision of the role of the city managing school board property,” to improve services. He said school boards and cities operate in a “parallel manner” and that’s not the most efficient way of doing things. For example, he said, “there is very little coordination regarding sharing of sports facilities.”

The PCHS gymnasium stood empty during the March Break and about 275 people lost out because the Pearson board was not as community-minded as it claims to be. This weekend, March 21 to 23, Chairperson Suanne Stein Day and Vice Chair Noel Burke are off to Nashville, Tennessee, under the guise of professional development (PD), to attend a two day ‘Congress’ put on by the National School Boards Association.

This will cost the Pearson taxpayer about $5000. Consider: $5000 could easily pay for 2-3 security guards and/or caretakers to monitor and tidy up after 275 people play badminton, or any other sport, throughout the 2016 March Break - a time when many people have free time to play sports.

The Couillard government should seriously consider Mayor Coderre’s vision of things, and prioritize its budget to improve services, which would certainly benefit the school community in 2016.

Chris Eustace

Pierrefonds

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