Parents are rallying to save a Dorval pre-kindergarten after the decision to close the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) daycare was announced late September.

Parents were informed of the closure of the Lester B. Pearson International Pre-Kindergarten—a private daycare—by mail on Sept. 30, citing financial difficulties. Some, like Mark Broady, say they would not have put their child there had they known it would be closing in June 2017.

“We had just taken our daughter out of another daycare where she was doing well because we thought this one was exceptional,” said Broady. “It’s upsetting that she needs one more year [before starting school] and the program is closing.”

The family chose the pre-kindergarten for its language program that teaches students in French, English and a third language, either Spanish, Italian or Mandarin.

At the beginning of the school year, Broady’s three-year-old daughter had no knowledge of Spanish, but can now count to at least 10 and form sentences in Spanish.

“Not in our mandate”

The decision to close the daycare was more than a matter of money, but also a matter of resources, according to chair of the LBPSB, Suanne Stein Day.

“It’s the whole model. We have staff in there, teachers, equipment, resources that are assigned to our courses that’s not in our public school mandate,” said Stein Day. “It isn’t our role as a school board to run a private daycare,” she added.

Though Stein Day agrees with parents that it is a wonderful program, the decision is not likely to be reversed. The school had also remained open an additional year to accommodate parents with children already enrolled.

Administration explained to parents that the pre-kindergarten was meant to be financially self-sufficient and that over the years, it has proven impossible to maintain without substantial cost increases to parents.

Administration could not be reached by deadline.

Moving out

There are 65 members in the “Save the LBPSB International Pre-K” Facebook group, and parents plan on organizing to rally the community. “It’s a hope at this point that we can create a collective voice,” said Broady.

One of the inspirations for the parents is the #SaveLakeside campaign where the only English high school in the Lachine-Dorval territory was saved from closure earlier this year.

The International Language Centre-Markus Tabachnik Pavillon building that houses the pre-kindergarten was slated for closure in June 2016. The pre-kindergarten’s closure is unrelated to the loss of the building, Stein Day confirmed.

The building will likely be handed over to the Commission Scolaire Marguerite Bourgeois (CSMB) next year, along with the Thorndale school building in Pierrefonds. The CSMB has made a formal request for the buildings due to overpopulation in their schools.

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