Public board to receive improvement funding

The Rainy River District School Board is looking at improvement projects in which to invest new funding from the province for school repair and expansion.
Last month, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced a $280-million government initiative “to repair, expand, or replace schools.”
“Students have a much better chance at success when they learn in schools that are clean, safe, and in good repair,” the premier said.
The annual funding was allocated to school boards across the province to be used to secure about $4 billion worth of repairs, additions, and new schools.
The local public board will receive about $78,000 of that funding.
“The ministry [of education] expects that to raise about a million dollars worth of capital renewal work,” noted Laura Mills, the board’s chief financial officer.
The board is expecting further details from the ministry on how the money is to be spent.
“We’re waiting for more details,” Mills said. “We’ll be reviewing our capital plan to see what we can do this summer. They want the work done this summer.”
While that’s too short of notice to begin work on any major projects, the board likely will look at smaller repairs and improvements that can be completed over the summer months, she added.
In other news, the local public school board passed a motion at its regular monthly meeting Monday night, held in Atikokan, to grant authority to borrow “up to a maximum indebtedness at any one time of $4,000,000.”
This is needed in order to “meet current operating costs for 2005 pending the receipt of grants and/or funds from local revenue.”
“That’s simply our operating overdraft,” Mills explained, adding there sometimes are delays in the arrival of funding, both from the ministry and municipal taxes.
The motion allows the board to borrow the needed operating funds until the funding arrives. In fact, the board passes a similar motion every year, Mills added.
“We don’t necessarily use it all,” she noted.
Also at Monday night’s meeting, the board:
•granted a Recognition of Excellence certificate to Atikokan High School for its program entitled “If You Knew Me”—a week of activities to teach teens how to avoid bullying and to find ways to support one another (the program was the brainchild of student Lindsay Kerr);
•granted a Recognition of Excellence certificate to North Star Community School in Atikokan for its peer helpers program, where 18 Grade 6 students assisted younger students and classroom teachers throughout the school year;
•recognized the success of the D.A.R.E. (Drugs and Abuse Resistance Education) program at North Star Community School over the past five years; and
•heard an update from its First Nations Advisory Committee regarding various programs to ensure the success of aboriginal students, including a new self-identification policy and the “Promoting Aboriginal Culture and Heritage” project at Fort Frances High School.