The “trailers” attached to schools increased

News 26 January, 2018
  • Photo Ben Pelosse
    Catherine Beauvais St-Pierre teaches in a modular unit at the school Judith-Jasmin, in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, which hosts 33% of pupils in the reception class of the CSDM. “I don’t know anyone who dreams of being in these units,” she said.

    Dominique Scali

    Friday, 26 January, 2018 01:00

    Friday, 26 January, 2018 01:00

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    The two largest school boards in Montreal want to triple the number of units prefabricated in their schools next year, an increase of an “unprecedented” which aims to address the lack of space then that student migrants continue to flood in.

    The Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM) has on Monday released a call for tenders to obtain modular units forming the equivalent of 100 new classes for the next school year. These units, sometimes referred to as ” trailers “, are typically installed in the school and linked to the main building by a corridor.

    It is an increase ” unprecedented “, says the president Catherine Harel Bourdon, since the CSDM currently has 53 classes were housed in prefabricated buildings.

    “This is not what you want. This is not the ideal. But it is rendered there, ” she says.

    Strongly affected by the arrival of migrant pupils, the CSDM has seen an increase of 1860 students this year, 600 more than expected. These new units manufactured should therefore make it possible to absorb the increase, welcoming approximately 1970 students.

    “Hit a wall “

    The numbers are even more glaring to the school board next-door neighbor, Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSMB), which houses 2,600 young people more than the past year. It is therefore considering also to triple its fleet of modular units from a dozen classes this year, fifty the next year.

    “We continue to receive about fifty students per week. At this rate, we will hit a wall, ” says president Diane Lamarche-Venne.

    Even in Laval, the school board intends to employ almost five times more modular units, from five classes at 24 next year, says president Louise Lortie.

    Photo Dominic Scali

    Violaine Cousineau

    Independent curator

    But for the independent commissioner Violaine Cousineau, this “emergency solution” is problematic because it is too often used long-term.

    “It is not necessary that the government relies on this possibility. I would like that the CSDM is more firm and leathery in the face of Quebec “in its applications for new construction,” she says.

    Shortage of teachers

    For its part, the Alliance of professors of Montreal reminds us that these units are less beautiful than the real classes, and therefore less attractive. She fears that a massive use of prefabricated contributes to discourage the teachers to choose the CSDM, which is already grappling with a shortage of staff.

    “I am certain that it has an effect, abounds Catherine Beauvais St-Pierre, who teaches in a modular to the school’s Judith-Jasmin. […] Let’s just say it doesn’t boost the image of our profession to the CSDM. “

    Add modular units to a hundred classes to the CSDM will cost $ 10 million, according to the call for tenders. The CSDM is still waiting for the response from the ministry of Education to find out if she will get the sufficient funding. The analysis of the application is in progress, indicates the Ministry.

    A solution that is temporary… for the past 15 years

    Parents are “outraged” by the state of “dilapidation” advanced units are prefabricated, which hold classes for 15 years in a school in the district of Ville-Émard in Montreal, denounces an independent commissioner.

    “It is scary. The floors are damaged, walls are damaged “, said Violaine Cousineau, commissioner of the South-West, about the school Saint-Jean-de-Matha.

    “It will endure for two more years, she said. […] Our schools should be beautiful and inviting. “

    Designed to last 10 to 15 years, the modular units are expected to be temporary. But too often, they become quasi-permanent, abounds Catherine Renaud, president of the Alliance des professeures et professeurs de Montréal.

    “It is difficult to compare, but common sense tells us that it will end up affecting the students,” she adds.

    Best quality

    The Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM) stresses, however, that the new generation of units manufactured is of the best quality.

    “When we did visit the parents, they were able to see that it was bright and comfortable,” explains Isabelle Tremblay, director of the school’s Judith-Jasmin in the neighborhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, which includes two classes in modular units for the past two years. “These are not trailers “, she says.

    Of the interior, the corridor and the classes bear an uncanny resemblance to the main building of the hotel, which is in the process of being expanded. The new part should be ready for the next school year.

    But even maximized, the school’s Judith-Jasmin will not get rid of its modular units of as soon as, in the case where the increase of customers would be higher than expected in the sector.

    Neither black nor white

    The modular units have a big advantage which is that the students stay near their place of residence rather than to relocate, said Pascale Grignon, movement I protect my public school.

    The catch is that they make pressure on the common areas, she adds. For these additional classes, there is no gym or a dining room added.

    Ms. Cousineau admits that the minister Sébastien Proulx has recently “weighed on the accelerator” of the expansions and constructions of school. “But this is not enough. As long as the investments will be in dribs and drabs, it is going to be in the same situation. “