Poor students who received $1 meals and special help will no longer be eligible because their school is no longer one of the most disadvantaged. This is unacceptable, according to Roland Barbier, director of the Hochelaga Community Center, who urges the government to find the money needed.
In another life, Mr. Barbier was a political attache to the Government of Quebec. What he’s holding back is that money, in the government, there’s always a way to find it. Especially when it is not colossal sums.
Two weeks ago, people from southwestern Montreal were worried. Last week, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. The problem ? Census and calculation of deprivation indexes that result.
At the next school year, some schools, which are located in poorer neighborhoods than in 2006, will be eligible for additional funding and will be better off than before; others, on the contrary, will lose their back-up funding, which includes both $1 meals and grants to hire orthopedagogues, speech therapists or specialized educators.
“We take food from a poor person to give it to someone who is poorer than they. ”
– Roland Barbier, Director of the Hochelaga Community Center
Mr. Barbier pleads for a law to be promulgated stating “that all children must eat their fill.”
He hopes that the Lab-Ecole team, which benefits from multi-million dollar grants to invent the ideal school, “will feel particularly concerned about what is happening. The idea behind this school is to promote healthy habits and now, we have children who do not have enough to eat. ”
A formula to rethink
Catherine Harel Bourdon, president of the Commission scolaire de Montreal (CSDM), thinks that the formula must be changed so that poverty is calculated “according to the parent’s income rather than according to the status of the school”, which currently leave out too many poor children living in a neighborhood considered a little less poor than before.
The CSDM also suggests that the cost of catering is proportional to each family’s ability to pay.
“At the CSDM, we have between 30% and 40% of students living below the poverty line as established by Statistics Canada and […] taking care of these disadvantaged children must be a national priority. ”
“As a society, it’s serious. Every child must be fed to his hunger. This is the basis. ”
– Catherine Renaud, President of the Alliance of Montreal Teachers
Yes, it will be necessary to rethink all this, but in the immediate future, “transitional measures [specific subsidies] must be adopted quickly for schools that will change status,” argues Josie Scalabrini, President of the Federation of Teachers’ Unions.
And it’s hurry, she says, because now is the time for schools to juggle the numbers and hiring professionals for the next school year.
Note, for example, that in the most disadvantaged schools, even the number of students per class is lower, which greatly changes the composition of groups.
Ministry promises “a smooth transition”
Francis Bouchard, press secretary for Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge, said the government is aware that “changes to the deprivation indexes … pose certain problems” and he assures that sums are planned for ” guarantee a smooth transition “.
“Work continues on this file. The terms of application and the breakdown of this amount should be known at the same time as the other budgetary rules of school boards, “he concludes.