Calling all students, parents, teachers and anyone who supports St. Michael’s High School: Now is the time to throw your weight behind the Low landmark up the line.
The small school is in danger of closing. The Western Quebec School Board (WQSB) has cited budgetary cutbacks as a key reason. Area residents have already spoken up against the plan, saying their community would die without its pillar.
Given that scenario, there will be a public consultation at Heritage Hall in Low on March 28. Anyone can attend and have their say to the WQSB.
“We’re going to destroy not only the schools, but people’s lives,” said Low resident Colette Canavan, who had two children graduate St. Mike’s and was previously the president of the local Parents Teachers Association. “Some of the students will be on the bus for four hours a day.”
Students from Danford Lake, Kazabazua, Gracefield, Lac-Ste-Marie and Low make up the school population which numbers 91 this year. Over the next five years, the WQSB projects the number will dip as low as 72 students.
Marcy Galipeau, communications advisor for the WQSB, said it’s mostly about reducing budgets. The WQSB is facing a $2.5-million cutback during the next few years.
“Until the council votes, no decision has been made,” she said, adding that the WQSB is “sympathetic” to the concerns of residents.
This is the fifth time St. Mike’s has faced the threat of closing. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was to shut down three times. About five years ago, the WQSB threatened to close its doors.
This time, St. Mike’s is projected to close for the 2014-2015 school year.
Gatineau Hills politicians, including Gatineau MNA Stephanie Vallee, Cantley Mayor Steve Harris and Low Mayor Morris O’Connor, have also spoken up against the plan.
Head to Heritage Hall on March 28 for the 7 p.m. public consultation. There will be another public consultation May 30, also at Heritage Hall, at 7 p.m.
For more information, visit www.wqsb.qc.ca.