The students at Port Coquitlam’s École des Pionniers are being squeezed out.
The public school is supposed to serve francophone students from kindergarten to Grade 12, but two classes are stuck in portables because a private, for-profit daycare uses three rooms inside the building.
“As a mom of three kids in the school, I’d like to see the resources being 100 per cent put toward my children, and everyone else’s children in the community and not towards a company,” parent Julie Emery said.
The company, Les Petit Pionniers, serves up to 50 children during the day and charges $1,075 a month for full-time care, potentially grossing over $53,000 monthly. It only pays the school district $600 in rent.
At the same time, the district spent $350,000 of public money on the two portables.
“We need to understand that this is affecting all taxpayers in British Columbia. When we pay our taxes we trust that the government is going to use that money to sponsor public programs and not private ones,” Emery said.
Several parents are calling on the district to replace the daycare with a non-profit. But the school board has given the business a green light for another three years.
“It just opened a door for any private businesses to be able to walk in any public B.C. school,” parent Marjolaine Savoie said. “This is a precedent.”
According to B.C.’s francophone school board, no other community group is prepared to use the space and having a French-language daycare is in the students’ best interest, saying those who attend the daycare are better prepared when they enter the school.
The district won’t rule out using classrooms for private child care elsewhere but will consider charging more.