With dramatically higher graduation rates than French school boards, a superior quality of education, and the assurance of a bilingual future for our children, there is no question why many parents choose to send their children to an English school. In fact, in 2013 our English boards scored 9.4% higher than French boards on the French language ministry exam.

If you are paying taxes to the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (SWLSB), then your money is in good hands. Over 75% of this board’s budget is dedicated specifically to compensation of the teacher envelope, while a mere 4.5% is spent on administrative services. School taxes are allocated towards education related activities, repairs and maintenance of buildings, energy consumption, student transportation, and salaries.

Recent media reports have criticized the building maintenance of SWLSB schools. “While our schools may not be the prettiest, they are in excellent shape. If you live in a house, you might want to renovate your kitchen, but if your roof is falling apart or your windows need repairing, then you have a much bigger problem,” explains Jennifer Maccarone, Chair of the SWLSB Council of Commissioners and President of the Quebec English School Board Association.

So, how are school taxes calculated? If you live in an apartment, then your taxes are accounted for by what you pay in rent. As a homeowner, the amount is determined by multiplying your school board’s tax rate by each $100 segment of your home’s municipal evaluation. The tax rate can go as high as 0.35 and is determined by the provincial government.

Every year, each school board is required to accumulate a specific amount of money by the Quebec government. “There is currently a serious inequity amongst school boards in Quebec. It costs more for an English education than for a French education,” states Maccarone.

Laval residents are currently paying a higher tax rate to English boards for a few reasons: the English community is a minority, more anglophones are sending their children to French schools, and there are many more French than English schools.

“We have 15,000 students and let’s say 35,000 taxpayers, compared to the Commission scolaire de Laval which has 42,000 students. If there are 450,000 residents in Laval, this gives them a much bigger tax base to draw from,” explains Maccarone. The board is thus forced to charge tax payers a higher rate than French boards who have significantly more tax payers.

This inequity, however, can be resolved as Montreal residents are paying a harmonized tax rate. “As a taxpayer, I am livid. This is a priority to me in every meeting that I have with the Ministry of Education,” says Maccarone. She explains that SWLSB is being told that the matter is being evaluated, but this means that now is not the time to sit back. Maccarone urges the community to reach out to its commissioners to find out where they can petition or to go to the SWLSB website where anyone would be happy to point them in the right direction. “There is a power in the voice of the community if we work together, and now is the time to do that.”