Public board eyeing expansions to schools

Expansions may be in the works for a number of public schools across the district as the local public school board considers how it will make use of its “Best Start” funding from the provincial government.
The Rainy River District School Board has developed a preliminary plan with a view to building expansions or making renovations to four existing schools: J.W. Walker here, Riverview in Rainy River, Crossroads in Devlin, and North Star in Atikokan.
Riverview currently is listed as the top priority, with plans to “reconfigure the existing building space by incorporating specifications required of a licensed day care for 20 children,” the report reads.
Plans for Walker include the construction of “an addition to the existing building” for 20 licensed day case spots.
The report indicates both schools could become “early learning hubs.”
At Crossroads, the board plans to “explore means by which renovations and capital equipment will enhance better partnerships, communication, and shared programs and resources between kindergarten classes at Crossroads and Country View Day Care.”
And in Atikokan, the board reports suggests supporting the existing early learning hub and establishing “a strong connection between pre-school programs and kindergarten programs.”
The board will receive about $314,000 to implement Phase 1 of “Best Start” in the 2005/06 school year, with the goal of increasing the number of child care spaces by at least 23 and co-ordinating early learning programs with the kindergarten curriculum.
The report also indicates the Ministry of Education is set to release its five-year capital plans later this fall.
“For the Fort Frances schools, ministry decisions will impact greatly on the options for ‘Best Start,’” the report reads.
The “Best Start” initiative, announced by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in July, aims to support children and their families in the early years of development—from birth to Grade 1.
It calls for the creation of “neighbourhood and early learning child care hubs” to provide child care and parenting programs, as well as screening, assessment, and treatment for speech and language disorders.
A total of $4.4 million will be shared among the program partners over the next three years to create an estimated 95 new licensed child care spaces across the district.
The local public school board will review its “Best Start” plan at its regular monthly meeting tonight at 7 p.m., which is being held at Rainy River High School.
Also on the agenda for tonight’s meeting are:
•a review of the EQAO results among district Grade 3, 6, and 9 students;
•the awarding of the “Recognition of Excellence” to the first responders (students trained to provide emergency first aid care) at RRHS; and
•a presentation on the board’s mentoring and induction program, which recently received funding from the province to facilitate an expansion.