School board faces tough decisions: Belluz

With just over a week until the deadline, several people across the district have filed their nomination papers to run for either the local public or separate school boards.
In Fort Frances, Dan Belluz has filed to run once again for the Rainy River District School Board.
Belluz, who has sat on the public board on and off for about 20 years, including terms as both chair and vice-chair, sees the upcoming year as a challenging one for the public board that will require trustees with some knowledge and experience.
“Next year is going to be a real challenging year as far as budget is concerned, and providing the best education to kids we can,” he stressed.
“It’s going to be about using our resources to their fullest potential.”
Last month, the public board was facing a $1.1-million funding shortfall, and had to make some cuts and some transfers from reserves to make up the difference.
Belluz said the current board already has started on the budget process for next year as it may face a similar shortfall again.
“It’s going to be difficult unless there’s a major change in funding,” he noted. “There’s going to be a lot of big decisions having to be made next year. . . .
“There should be as much experience on the board as possible to make those decisions.”
Belluz was on the board during the government of former Conservative premier Mike Harris—one whose approach to education he described as “slashing and burning.”
Until this year, Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government had been more generous towards education.
Another problem facing the board here is declining enrolment.
“Every time we lose a student, we lose $10,000 -$12,000 off our budget,” Belluz explained.
Fewer students doesn’t mean lower costs because things like staffing and heating remain the same.
Gord McBride, the second trustee representing Fort Frances on the public board, has not yet decided whether he will throw his hat into the ring again this year.
“I’m weighing that decision right now and I’m not going to make a decision until next week,” he said yesterday.
Newcomers Glenda Belluz and Barbara Everett both have filed to run for the one seat representing La Vallee on the public board while Judy Eluik once again is running for the lone Atikokan seat.
Current chair Ron McAlister is seeking re-election for the Rainy River seat while vice-chair Margaret Heyens has filed for the Emo seat once again.
For the Northwest Catholic District School Board, only incumbent Harold Huntley has filed his papers to run for one of the three seats in Fort Frances.
The other two are held by board chair Gerry Rousseau and Anne Marie Fitzgerald.
Newcomer Don Marquis has filed to run for the seat representing Morley while incumbent John Borst is seeking one of two seats representing Dryden.
As of yesterday, no one had filed to run for the lone seat in Sioux Lookout, which currently is held by Cathy Bowen.