Board votes to close schools

Alberton parents’ pleas didn’t save their school as the Rainy River District School board voted Wednesday night to close three local schools.
At its regular monthly meeting, which was held at Donald Young School in Emo, trustees voted unanimously to close Alexander MacKenzie and Sixth Street schools here no earlier than June, 2003 and no later than June, 2004.
They also voted to close Alberton Central School, with only trustee Martin Darrah, who represents that area, voting against the motion.
Darrah made a final plea to the board prior to the vote, saying they would be losing a number of excellent students and dedicated parents from the area if they went through with the closure.
“I think we should really consider what we’re doing before the vote,” he told the board.
Darrah said the parent support demonstrated since the first public meeting earlier this year is something that should be encouraged by the board.
Trustee Frank Sheppard, who eventually voted in favour of the closure, also expressed concerns about the plan beforehand. “I have some reservations about the conditions at the school,” he said.
After touring the school last week, Sheppard said he wasn’t sure the original cost estimate for repairs to Alberton Central was accurate, believing it was too high.
“But that’s just probably getting into semantics,” he remarked.
The roughly two dozen parents and community members from Alberton sat silently as the vote was made.
Danielle Robinson, chair of the Alberton School Parent Council, said she was very upset about the vote but wasn’t surprised.
“We raised money, received pledges, circulated and handed in a petition, and addressed concerns of the school board to no avail,” she said on behalf of the parent council.
“We are guilty of one thing, and that is being naive in thinking that the school board would put the best interest of our students first.”
Robinson did add she was pleased to hear Darrah speak out against the closure, and that she felt parents’ concerns weren’t completely ignored.