MacKenzie parents not against school closure

Safety issues and where their children would attend school during a transition year topped parent concerns at the school closure meeting at Alexander MacKenzie on Thursday night.
About 20 people showed up for the Valentine’s night meeting with Rainy River District School Board trustees and administration to discuss what would happen to their children if the board chooses to close Alexander MacKenzie.
Most of the parents at the meeting said they weren’t against closing their school in favour of an expanded J. W. Walker.
“I would like to state that at the present time, I am not against closing Alexander MacKenzie School,” Wendy Kellar, who has two children there, said during her presentation.
“What I am concerned about, along with several other parents, is first the lack of sidewalks on Keating Avenue, and second sending children to Robert Moore during [the] construction period,” she told the board.
Kellar said she was worried about the already high traffic volume from the three schools in the area before classes, at lunch time, and after school, especially for young kids who walk on the street to get to school.
Trustee Dan Belluz, who chaired the meeting, said the board was aware of the traffic problem and looking for ways to make is safer for students attending the expanded J. W. Walker—such as talking with the town about sidewalks.
“Safety is a major concern among all the trustees,” he said.
Lorena Jenks, chair of Alexander MacKenzie school council, pointed out during her presentation that it wasn’t up to the school board to install sidewalks on Keating Avenue.
“It’s up to the town to build sidewalks,” she said.
As for where students from J. W. Walker would be sent during construction of the proposed expansion, the board said that couldn’t be decided until it definitely had voted to close one, two, or all three of the schools on the chopping block.
“Nothing has been decided yet. There are many scenarios that have been discussed,” said Superintendent of Education Terry Ellwood. “We want to hear from parents what their concerns are.”
For the most part, parents who attended last night’s meeting seemed pleased with the answers the board provided.
“I think it was a good opportunity for parents to come out tonight and speak with the board and get some answers,” said Sandy Skirten, who has two kids at Alexander MacKenzie.
“Perhaps maybe they weren’t the answers people were looking for but I felt the people were honest,” he added.
The board will hold its third and final public consultation meeting with parents from Alberton Central School there Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m.