Friday 16 November 2012

Mordecai Richler School in the Plateau?

Following last night's CBC broadcast of my Facebook quest to name a proposed new school in Cote St. Luc for Mordecai Richler, I heard from Julien Feldman, an English Montreal School Board Commissioner. He's been working on a plan to rename a building on St. Urbain Street, right near the original Baron Byng High School that Mr. Richler made famous by its fictional alter ego, Fletcher's Field High.

Here's the exchange, which is ongoing...

From Julien Feldman: "This is a good initiative, but I've actually spoken to Richler's family about re-naming the Bancroft building on St.Urbain, just up the street from Baron Byng. The school governing boards who operate the building will be asked to consider the proposal very soon."

  • Beverly Akerman Julien, how many kids in the school? I understand it recently had a near-death experience. How likely is another such experience to occur in the not-too-distant future? How much support does the proposal have from parents? Are they not concerned about the possible reaction from the French communities?
  • Julien Feldman The Bancroft building is actually two schools - Bancroft Elementary and MIND high School, for a total of about 300 students. The elementary school is the fastest growing in the EMSB, thank to its incredibly successful bilingual program and the growing influx of anglos into the the Plateau. It's bucking the trend to declining enrollment.
    Last year there was an EMSB administration proposal to move kids to a different building, but that was unanimously rejected by the EMSB council of commissioners because of its rapid growth, so it was no real "near-death" experience.
    It's quite uncertain whether the Cote St. Luc high school will ever happen. Two years ago it flopped because of lack of demand. Only a couple of dozens kids said they'd enroll. Part of the problem is that its proponents have pre-defined as a religious school.
    The Cote St. Luc building is not Wagar, but in fact the "Palatucci Centre". The proposed high school would start off as a few classrooms inside the Palatucci Centre, if there's sufficient demand. The last effort only attracted a few dozen students and was cancelled.
    As for reaction form the local community, there is considerable support from the local borough and its Councillors and Mile End is the most mufti-cultural in the city.
  • Beverly Akerman so the proposal is to name the building, is that right? 300 students in both schools? how fast is the "fastest growing in the EMSB"? and i don't think the CSL proposal has anything to do with religion, btw.
  • Julien Feldman That's correct. Michael Applebaum and Marvin Rotrand baptized the Fletcher's Field gazebo, but a building on a major artery is obviously more appropriate and more substantial than a few classrooms in the West End.
    The CSL high school proposal is for a "heritage" program, which is in fact a euphemism for a religious component. The basic idea is to attract Jewish day school students back into the public system.
    If you'll recall, this new proposal emerged from the the failed effort to move Royal Vale from NDG into the Palatucci Centre, affecting hundreds of kids currently attending Royal Vale building in elementary and high school.
  • Beverly Akerman Julien, I led the Royal Vale fight to keep the school in NDG a few years back. And you unkindly misrepresent the heritage program. Cote St. Luc has one of the oldest populations of a Quebec municipality. Now they're trying to attract new younger families with new developments, and a public high school--and wonderful new aquatic facilities--is part of that strategy. I can respect that, and also the absence of coercion this time.
  • Beverly Akerman And their persistence. Please don't condescend to me.
  • Max Layton Again, a Richler high school in the St. Urbain area is absolutely appropriate because that's what he wrote about and where he lived. But a high school in Cote St Luc should be named for my father, Irving Layton, because that's where we lived and he wrote many poems about it. Surely, Montreal is a big enough city to have room for two great writers -- and two schools!
So there you have it: Plateau? Cote St. Luc? Richler? Layton? How about Leonard Cohen? You can vote at until November 30th.

 And you can schmooze here or on Facebook.

Please also see my article about the EMSB's 2011 attempt to move the high school component of Royal Vale School into the old Wagar building, now officially known as the Giovanni Pallatucci facility.

Who was Giovanni Pallatucci

"Giovanni Palatucci saved the lives of 5,000 Jews destined to die in death camps during World War II. From 1938 to 1944, Palatucci was first in charge of the Office of Foreigners and later Chief of Police of Fiume, a city in northern Italy..."

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