New Atikokan K-12 school lands funding

Atikokan Progress
M. McKinnon

The province is investing $23 million to establish a new K-12 school at the current Atikokan High School site.
“I am proud that we are making a real difference for students and families now and for future generations,” said Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro, who announced the project would go ahead last Wednesday afternoon at the AHS resource centre.
“Congratulations to the school board, staff, the accommodation review team, and community partners,” Mauro added.
“Your vision and commitment to student success has helped make this project a reality.”
The project is the one developed through a year-long modified accommodation review process.
It was approved by the local board in September, with one major change: the new school now will include daycare and early years centres.
Grayson Hall and most of the shop wing of the existing school will be maintained.
The rest of the existing structure will be razed and rebuilt, with an additional gymnasium and stage as part of the new build.
Director of Education Heather Campbell said the board would choose an architect shortly, and start work on designing the new facility immediately.
She expects tenders for the job will be called later this year, with shovels in the ground by the end of the year or early in 2019.
The anticipated move-in date is September, 2020.
The construction will impact at least three semesters of study.
As such, the board will have to work out some combination of staged construction and portable classrooms to accommodate students over the second semester of 2018-19 and both semesters of 2019-20.
“Our schools exist for students, but also enhance the surrounding communities in providing neighbourhood and community access that supports the well-being of students and their families,” Campbell said.
“This exciting announcement truly demonstrates the importance of lifelong learning as this facility will be a learning hub, supporting infant and pre-school, to elementary and secondary children and youth, as well as adult learners through our partnerships with Contact North and Confederation College,” she noted.
Atikokan trustee and board vice-chair Mike Lewis thanked a long line of people who have been involved with the project since it first was proposed.
The group included board staff, architects Brook McIlroy, accommodation review committee members, and more.
“I would like to acknowledge the man who brought us this good news today, Bill Mauro, our MPP, who has done all that is in his power to support Atikokan and its future, dating back to the day he met with Atikokan citizens at the Legion Hall to absorb the verbal fallout from the announcement of the closing of the coal plant in Atikokan,” noted Lewis.
“He has spoken, supported, and advocated, at cabinet and among his colleagues, for ideas and projects to help keep Atikokan viable,” Lewis added.
“Today he is bringing another success story to Atikokan, and a significant financial commitment, to the current and future students of Atikokan.”
The Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board, meanwhile, continues to work on developing a re-purposed future for the North Star School building.
It is working with Ameresco, a consultant specializing in developing renewal plans for aging facilities, and has applied for funding to develop supported housing for singles at the site.
DSSAB CAO Dan McCormick met with services providers in Atikokan last week to discuss possibilities.