Parents’ pleas likely won’t save school

Concerns from Alberton Central parents were at the forefront of Tuesday night’s Rainy River District School Board meeting in Atikokan, but it appears trustees still will go ahead with plans to close it and two others here.
“We must have spent a good 20 minutes of discussion about the Alberton issue. Just about all of the trustees commented,” board chair Gord McBride said after the meeting.
“The general comment that I heard from the group was that they didn’t learn that much new at the meeting at Alberton,” he added.
“The feeling I got from the trustees is that they are still leaning towards going on with the amalgamation of the schools and the rebuilding of Walker.”
Education Director Warren Hoshizaki said the board spent considerable time going over each of the suggestions noted in the minutes from the Alberton school closure meeting last week.
McBride said there was little information brought forth by parents that the board hadn’t already considered.
“We didn’t hear anything from a financial point of view that would cause us to change our mind. Nothing about the financial considerations in the budget,” he said.
“I would have to say that the Alberton meeting did not change anybody’s mind,” McBride continued.
“We appreciate that it was an emotion-filled meeting and we appreciate their concern, and we talked about them, but I don’t think anybody had their mind changed by what happened there.”
Trustees are set to discuss the school closure issue at their next regular meeting in April, and then possibly make a final decision May 7.
In addition to discussing the possibility of school closures, the board also listened to presentations from North Star Community School and Atikokan High School.
Hoshizaki said he was particularly impressed by the literacy program undertaken in the primary division at North Star.
“They teach kids at their own reading level,” he explained. “They are grouped at their own reading level, not depending on their grade, so that kids from different grades in the primary division meet with other kids who are reading at exact same level and it is showing excellent results.”
He said the program, which focuses on reading groups guided by teachers, is attracting a lot of attention throughout Northwestern Ontario and that the school wants to expand it to the junior division next year.
Also last night, the school board:
•heard reports from its finance committee and occupational health and safety committee; and
•approved leaves of absence for Fort High teachers Gerry Seaward, Cathy Bruyere, Catherine Smith, and Julie Shuh, resignation from educational assistant Cheryl Rudolph, and the retirement of teachers Nancy Cain and Terry Quibell, and program co-ordinator Tom Fry.