MONTRÉAL, May 29, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ - This afternoon, a delegation of Villa Maria students, parents, and staff went to the offices of Liberal minister and MNA for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Kathleen Weil to submit three petitions with a total of almost three thousand signatures.
The first document, presented by Secondary 3 students Linnea Nguyen, Anika Finch, and Léa Caza-Oettel, was hundreds of pages long. The "Save Villa Maria's Music School" petition, which has over 2000 signatures and nearly 600 comments, was posted online after an announcement in January that the music school would close. The petition signers are mainly students at the high school, Villa Maria graduates, professional musicians, and individuals from various cultural institutions in Quebec. Other artists, as well as members of the community that surround Villa Maria, have also added their names to the long list of those calling for the music school to be saved, given its rich 165-year history and its reputation as a pool of Quebec's next generation of musical talent.
Nathalie Fisette-Caza, President of the Parents Association of Villa Maria, Marcel Naud, and Peter Mercuri, who are all parents of students and founding members of the Coalition for the Advancement of Governance in Education (CAGE), presented a second petition signed by more than 600 people who are mainly the parents of current students, but also individuals with a special relationship with the school (alumni, parents of former students, etc). Asking, in particular, for a moratorium on the closure of the music school and effective representation and participation of teachers and parents in school decisions, the petition signers are calling for an immediate change in the school's governance structure in the interests of the children and the entire Villa Maria community.
The school's staff was represented by two Villa Maria teachers. They presented a letter addressed to Sébastien Proulx, Minister of Education, signed by 100 staff members, asking for a moratorium on decisions that impact the working conditions of teaching and non-teaching staff. They also called for this moratorium to be accompanied by a thorough investigation into the school's current governance structure and for changes to be implemented based on the results of the investigation.
Also at the meeting were Sue Macelli and Maureen Marovitch, mothers of students and members of the SOSVillaMaria group, who reminded Ms. Weil that nearly 50% of the school's funding comes from government subsidies. The lack of transparency in the decision-making process and repeated refusals to engage in dialogue call into question the benevolence of the board of directors with regard to student progress. With an abnormal increase in school fees going beyond the budget framework specified by the government and the removal of a Villa Maria Foundation employee from the school, SOSVillaMaria members feel that the government needs to intervene firmly and quickly to re-establish a climate of trust between the board of directors, the administration, parents, and staff, and to once again provide Villa Maria students with an environment that is conducive to learning.
For further information: Katerine Desgroseilliers, Communications Adviser--CSN, [email protected], 514-265-4250