Catholic board thankful for quick response to fire

At its regular meeting last Tuesday night (Jan. 15), the Northwest Catholic District School Board discussed the Christmas Eve fire at St. Michael’s School that destroyed one classroom.
Education director Mary Catherine Kelly stressed the board was thankful for the quick response by everyone involved.
She noted the Fort Frances Fire Department and local OPP responded to the fire alarm, but nearby residents also were quick to notice the flames and report it.
Kelly added members of the board also were on the scene in no time.
“Everyone was so quick to respond and they did an excellent job of handling the situation,” she remarked, adding that if it had taken even 10 minutes longer to respond, a lot more than just one classroom would have been lost.
Kelly indicated nothing was salvageable in the affected classroom and there was damage to the roof. In addition, there was some smoke damage throughout the rest of the school.
“Everyone was very efficient in getting things back on track,” she stressed, noting superintendent of business Chris Howarth was quick to get work underway so the school was able to re-open as scheduled after the Christmas break.
The damaged classroom was boarded up and students from the class were moved to a portable classroom that was available on the school grounds.
“[The teachers] did a beautiful job of decorating the room,” Kelly said. “And the first day back went smooth as if nothing had happened.”
Kelly added the board was fortunate no one was hurt and that the incident wasn’t any worse.
In other business at last week’s meeting, the board heard a presentation on the School Effectiveness Framework by leader Joanne Querel of St. Joseph’s School.
Querel will be directing the provincial program for teachers and principals within the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
The School Effectiveness Framework is a resource intended to support educators in a self-assessment process in order to improve student achievement.
The initiative—a reflection of the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat—was established under the belief that Ontario schools are ready to move to a new level of professional accountability.
A District Review Team will assist in the assessment process.
“It’s an opportunity for colleagues to enter into professional reflection,” Kelly explained. “And help us to move forward so we can help the students in their achievements.”
Also at the Jan. 15 meeting, the board:
•reviewed audited financial statements;
•passed the fifth-annual Accessibility Plan for submission to the Ministry of Citizenship;
•endorsed Ontario School Boards’ Insurance Exchange to provide group travel accident insurance for the board for a five-year term;
•adopted the strategic plan, which is ready to send out to public stakeholders; and
•created and approved polices for student discipline procedures under the Safe Schools Strategy.