OPSBA members tour local schools

The president of the Ontario Public School Board Association paid a visit to Fort Frances on Tuesday on a short tour of Northwestern Ontario.
Rick Johnson, who was named president back in June, said he hoped to make relations between the association and school boards more personal.
“We’re trying to put a face to the name,” he remarked. “That way when somebody calls with an issue, I can say, ‘I know that board.’”
Johnson was accompanied by Dave Walpole, the program consultant for the OPSBA.
“We’re trying to gather much better insight into the issues you deal with here that are not as well understood by the people in southern Ontario,” Walpole said.
“There is a sense that southern Ontario is the great epicentre. There are more kids there, but not more important kids,” he noted.
Both Johnson and Walpole said the success rates of First Nations students seems to be a primary concern for the board here, particularly literacy and drop-out rates.
“It is a concern in other boards. It’s not just here,” Walpole said. “It’s absolutely an issue that needs to be understood by the government.”
Johnson noted while school boards can appeal directly to the Ministry of Education for help regarding some issues, an appeal from OPSBA, which represents more than 50 school boards across Ontario, often can carry more weight.
Both men were given a tour of Fort Frances High School and the newly-renovated J.W. Walker School by local public school board trustee Judy Eluik and Linda Hill, assistant superintendent of education.
J.W. Walker vice-principal Bill Daley showed the men the new computer lab in the school, and explained that each classroom is equipped with a digital projector.
“That’s tremendous,” Johnson said.
The pair had visited Kenora on Monday, and will be visiting the Lakehead and Superior-Greenstone boards later this week.