Despite glaring needs, a 4-year-old kindergarten class in an underprivileged school in Montreal will have to close its doors at the start of the school year, due to a lack of available places.
“Having known that 4-year-old kindergarten was not going to open, I would not have made false expectations of my son, who is eager to go play, to make friends,” said Kim David, whose son Émerick is one of 26 children whose registration has been cancelled.
The Baril school, in the borough of Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, is nevertheless part of the 10% of the most disadvantaged Quebec schools in the province.
In 2018, the Coalition Avenir Québec promised to offer a 4-year-old kindergarten place to all parents who want to send their child there, whereas this service was previously reserved for less well-off neighborhoods.
During a debate, François Legault had even put his seat at stake in relation to this promise.
The Center de services scolaire de Montréal (CSSDM) says it has no choice but to close 4-year-old kindergarten because the premises will be occupied by regular kindergarten students. There was no room left for a preschool class, which had been in place for more than five years.
This decision was taken “in order to avoid the displacement of a large number of 5-year-old students to other schools in the district”, explained a spokesperson for the CSSDM Alain Perron.
A situation deplored by a former school commissioner from the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, Diane Beaudet.
“Baril School is an environment where there are many families with great needs. These are young people who deserve a helping hand, and that is why 4-year-old kindergarten must exist. It’s truly sad. »
According to information obtained by our Bureau of Investigation, the Montreal School Services Center currently expects that there will be 92 4-year-old kindergarten classes at the start of the school year, only one more than this year.
A surprising situation when we know that the CSSDM has 60% of disadvantaged schools on its territory. In the rest of the province, it is already expected that 265 groups will be added to the network.
The CSSDM specifies that it is still possible that the number of classes will change by September, as registrations continue. Despite everything, we assure to be “in phase with the objectives of the Ministry of Education”.
Last year, the Legault government postponed its intention to open 2,600 4-year-old kindergarten classes to 2025, a flagship promise of its program, which has been watered down many times.
-With Daphnée Dion-Viens, Le Journal de Québec
1345 Number of 4-year-old kindergarten classes in Quebec
1610 (+265) Number of pre-kindergarten classes scheduled for September 2022
Number of additional 4-year-old kindergarten classes planned for the start of the 2022 school year:
CSS Marguerite-Bourgeoys: +6
Montreal CSS: +1
CSS de la Pointe-de-l’Île: +4
2600 Objective for the start of the 2025 school year
Sources: Ministry of Education and CSS Marguerite-Bourgeoys, Montreal and Pointe-de-l’Île
Photo Chantal Poirier
Mothers whose children were enrolled in 4-year-old kindergarten at Baril school were taken aback and must now find an alternative plan for the next school year.
“I’m a little taken aback,” admits Geneviève Lehoux, who also judges that a preschool would have been optimal for her daughter’s development.
The mother of little Lena is therefore looking for a daycare or an early childhood center.
“From a social and community point of view, I find it difficult,” says the one who knows the challenges of the neighborhood well because of her involvement in a local community organization.
Another mother worries about the progress of her son who was impatiently awaiting his return to school.
“My son hasn’t attended daycare, so with 4-year-old kindergarten closed, I’m afraid he’ll be late. [comparativement aux autres enfants] “says Kim David.
She was also convinced that the registration of her son Emerick was guaranteed.
“Especially in a disadvantaged neighborhood where we are told that we are lucky to have 4-year-old kindergarten! »
The Montreal Association of School Principals regrets that it is the students who pay the price.
“It is true that the shortage of staff affects us all, but is it the 4 year olds who need to have access to the school and its services who should be penalised? raised its president, Kathleen Legault.