More money earmarked for classrooms

At its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, the Northwest Catholic District School Board approved a detailed budget outlining the expenditure of $498,410 it will receive in funding through the provincial government’s Rural Education Strategy (RES).
The board initially had expected to receive $486,000, but the Ministry of Education’s final calculation was $12,000 higher.
“With this money came regulations that clearly outline how the money is to be spent, and the bulk of the money is in the classroom area,” said Education Director John Madigan.
The board agreed $72,000 of the RES funding would be used to hire two full-time equivalent classroom teachers—at least one of whom will be placed at Saint Joseph’s School in Dryden.
Meanwhile, the schools’ Internet bandwidth will be increased to five megabytes with $45,000 in RES funding.
Another $52,500 will go towards additional computer site administrators, with $25,501 earmarked for the addition of vice-principal hours.
Every classroom under the board will receive $500 to add to their libraries, and $5,758 will go towards putting a new roof on St. Joseph’s School in Dryden.
Not all the spending is new. There are some items the board already had budgeted for, which now will be partially paid for by the RES funding.
For example, $45,000 will go towards existing resource teachers assigned to assist with literacy and another $45,000 will go towards updating the videoconferencing equipment.
A full report on how the RES funding will be spent will be posted on the school board’s Web site by Dec. 15.
Also Tuesday night, the board reviewed a report on average class size at its schools.
The ministry stipulates that each board must ensure that primary classrooms (Junior Kindergarten-Grade 3) average 24 students per classroom while all grades (JK-Grade 8) average 24.5 students per class.
Overall, the local separate school board averages 21.37 students per class in the primary designation and 22.21 students per class in all grades.
“We fall within the ministry’s parameters for class sizes,” said Superintendent of Education Al Cesiunas.
St. Michael’s School had the smallest average class size, with 19.52 students per class in all grades, while St. Francis had the highest average, (23.08).
Tuesday night’s meeting was the last for trustee Wade Petranik. He will be replaced at the next meeting by John Borst, who beat out Petranik for the Dryden seat by two votes in the Nov. 10 election.
Another new trustee to the table at the next meeting will be Cathy Bowen, representing Sioux Lookout.
The new board will hold its inaugural meeting Saturday, Dec. 6 at 10:30 a.m. in Dryden.
(Fort Frances Times)