Board outlines summer work

Nicholas Donaldson

Summer may have been a break for students but for the Rainy River District School Board, it was a busy time for improvements across its jurisdiction.
Board administration gave a report summary of the 2017 summer accomplishments update to trustees during the first regular meeting of the new school year here last Tuesday night.
“To give you the highlights of the highlights, we’ve put out 650 new Chromebooks this summer, finishing our one-to-one deployment for Grades 4-12,” Information Technology Services manager Stephen Danielson told the board.
“As well, we have a huge update in moving to Windows 10 in all our desktop computers,” he added.
Danielson explained there were many benefits to the change, noting the Windows 7 operating system was getting older and losing company support.
“One of the big things that is already being noticed is login times on Windows 10 are exceptionally fast,” he remarked.
“So we’re spending less time getting logged in when classes are going on and adding more instructional time.”
The board also has added two more automated libraries, which currently are being set up at Nestor Falls and McCrosson-Tovell schools.
“Every one of our schools will now have an electronic library system,” Danielson said.
He explained that electronic library systems let students use their library card, and record books going in and out.
The system also allows libraries to cross-share books and materials, as well as connect to the electronic central library to borrow music kits and other educational materials.
Travis Enge, manager of plant operations and maintenance for the board, also gave his report to trustees during last Tuesday’s meeting.
“Across the district, we did a number of regular safety inspections of our fire alarm systems, sprinklers, elevators, lifting devices, gymnasiums, and playgrounds,” he noted.
Enge said preventive maintenance was done on heating systems while four schools (Crossroads, McCrosson-Tovell, Sturgeon Creek, and Nestor Falls) received new UV disinfection water treatment systems.
“Donald Young School, of course, was a major focus for us this summer,” said Enge, adding the new wing there is built and being used by students.
“We still need to finish the link between the new school and the old school,” he noted.
“That work is ongoing and we expect to have that the week of Sept. 25.”
Both J.W. Walker and Robert Moore received updates to their playgrounds, as per their improvement plans, while Fort Frances High School was the site of a large amount of mechanical work.
“We’ve got two new boilers where the two old ones were, new digital building controls for heating and cooling, and we replaced the curtain walls for the three original entrances from the old Westfort High School,” Enge said.
“We are just waiting for the doors to arrive and right now we have temporary doors in place,” he reported.
He added the work was timely for the greenhouse gas reduction funding given by the Ministry of Education that the board was able to use for these improvements.
Also at Fort High, two more washrooms were renovated, the new public address and the new fire alarm systems were installed, with the new phone system on its way.
“The teachers have also been requesting that the wall between the auto and wood shop be closed in­­, which we did, so they were very happy about that,” Enge added.
Also at last Tuesday’s meeting, trustees:
•welcomed Rainy River High School student Lemuel Carradice as this year’s student trustee after taking his oath of office;
•presented its monthly Recognition of Excellence to Crossroads School for the “Being Well Together-Count on it!” event held there in May;
•listened to FFHS student Angie Redford, the Sunset Country Science Fair winner, tell of her experiences at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Regina in May, where she and her partner received a bronze medal;
•heard board reports on the Special Education Advisory Committee, Audit Committee, Policy Committee, and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association; and,
•received administrative reports from Director of Education Heather Campbell, Superintendent of Business Laura Mills, Executive Officer of Employee and Labour Relations Kevin Knutsen, and Superintendent of Education Al McManaman.
Looking ahead, the board will hold a special meeting tonight (Sept. 13) at Atikokan High School concerning the future of the two schools in Atikokan.
Then on Monday (Sept. 18), a community safety zone meeting will be held at Crossroads School in Devlin.
All three meetings begin at 7 p.m.
The board’s next regular meeting is set for Tuesday, Oct. 3 at Rainy River High School.