Community groups gain free use of schools

FORT FRANCES—Community groups across the district will benefit from free use of local public school board facilities after it passed a motion Tuesday night to approve the Community Recreation and Use Agreement with the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation.
In the past, the Rainy River District School Board has not charged non-profit or educational groups for the use of its facilities unless the board incurred costs from that use, such as additional time of school caretakers.
As a result of this agreement, the board will receive a grant of $37,040 to underwrite the costs of additional caretakers’ time during after-hours.
The permit fee that also occasionally was charged to non-profit groups has been eliminated, too.
The board will continue to charge a nominal fee for the use of equipment.
As well, this agreement will not apply to groups who wish to use school facilities for profit.
Terry Ellwood, the board’s superintendent of education, said the grant will provide an additional 1,000 hours a year for non-profit groups across the district.
And he hoped the move would encourage more community groups to make use of the board’s facilities.
“While the major responsibility of the board is to provide a sound educational program for children and youth, it is also responsive to the needs of the community,” the board stated in a press release.
In Fort Frances, local schools are used by the karate club, badminton club, Brownies and Sparks, and the Pairs ’n Squares dance club. Schools also have hosted blood donor clinics, ’flu shot clinics, and citizenship ceremonies.
In Emo, the Borderland Community Orchestra, Sea Cadets, and Rhythmic Gymnastics all use school board facilities for practice. Nestor Falls School welcomes a gym group.
McCrosson-Tovell School in Morson often is used by the Lake of the Woods Women’s Institute. The school also will be hosting a CPR/First Aid training session for the local volunteer fire department, school employees, and local citizens.
“The school grounds were used by the community for a summer Fun Day with supervised games and races for children of all ages,” the board noted.
Riverview School in Rainy River hosts evening sports, Bible Club activities, music lessons, the community choir, and workshops run by the Healthy Communities Coalition.
And Atikokan High School is used for adult sports, children and adult entertainment series, the 30-Hour Famine, and hunter safety training.
Ellwood said he hoped the board would be able to enter into agreement with other provincial ministries down the road.
In other news, the board on Tuesday night passed a resolution to declare Alexander MacKenzie School here surplus and to put the property up for sale in accordance with the Education Act.
The property first will have to be offered to a preferential list of organizations, including coterminous school boards and local colleges and municipalities, before putting it on the public market.
Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, the board:
•approved eight reviewed policies, and agreed to submit seven more for stakeholder consultation;
•heard presentations regarding EQAO results for Grades 3, 6, and 9; and
•heard presentations from the student council presidents of the board’s four secondary schools regarding extracurricular activities available at each school.