New education minister meets with trustees

Trustees from across Northwestern Ontario met with the new education minister yesterday in Thunder Bay to hear the new provincial government’s plans for education in the coming year and to express their concerns.
Gerard Kennedy said the provincial government was interested in co-operating with trustees and school boards in working towards a common goal, local trustee Gord McBride said.
McBride was among four trustees from the Rainy River District School Board who attended the meeting. The others were Margaret Heyens (Emo-Chapple), Judy Eluik (Atikokan), and Ron McAlister (Rainy River).
About 100 trustees from the area attended the meeting, which was held at the Travelodge Hotel in Thunder Bay.
Kennedy, originally hailing from The Pas, Man., expressed an affinity for northerners and their concerns, McBride said, adding he also promised a renewed interest in education from the new Liberal government.
Kennedy later fielded questions from trustees.
McBride, who also is vice-president of the Ontario Public School Board Association, asked about funding.
“I asked him about the two shortcomings of the present funding structure: transportation, and students being short-changed because there is not enough money in the special education pot,” he said.
“He [Kennedy] said the transportation issue is being addressed right now, and that a new formula would be announced in the near future,” McBride noted.
“He also said they are addressing the issue of special education.”^Kennedy is making four stops in cities across Ontario this month to speak to trustees and rebuild the relationship with school boards—a relationship that had been less than ideal under the former Tory government.
“Right now, they seem to have a more positive idea of education,” McBride noted. “But we’re in the honeymoon period right now.
We’ll have to see what the fallout is.”