Public school board breaks even

Despite early indications they might be in the red this year, the Rainy River District School board broke even in its 2000-2001 budget, the chief financial officer told trustees at their monthly meeting here Tuesday night.
“We ended the 2000-2001 school year in a very favorable position,” Laura Mills told the board. “Financially, we were able to come to the break-even position.”
Mills said breaking even was a difficult task for the board this time.
“It looked earlier in the year that we were going to be in a deficit position, and we implemented cost-cutting measures and precautions and I’m pleased to say that they worked and we were able to enter a break-even position,” she reported.
Mills said the board actually spent $46,855 less in classroom expenditures and $180,428 less in school renewal than what was earmarked by the province.
As a result, the board was required to place those unspent funds in a special reserve fund to be spent on those areas in future years.
Chairman Gord McBride commended the board on being able to stay within the budget.
“This board spends about $30 million a year,” he said. “I think it’s very commendable that our director and our finance lady are spending taxpayers’ money and come within a smidgen of being right on target.”
Education Director Warren Hoshizaki also was appreciative of the administration’s ability to cut back and keep the board on budget.
In addition to the financial report, the board also heard a presentation from J.W. Walker and Alexander MacKenzie schools, which were being recognized for excellence.
The presentation highlighted everything from a “reading buddy” program that invited parents into the classroom once a month to the classroom use of laptops as well as extra-curricular activities designed to boost school pride.
Following the presentation, Larry Patrick, a grade eight teacher at J.W. Walker, was asked to respond to misgivings of some parents worried that an expanded Walker school won’t be able to handle the 300 plus students if three other local elementary schools are closed.
Patrick said that as an educator dealing with a basement as a gym, he was looking forward to a new gym and an expanded resource centre.
“There’s two things positive. Not to mention the school is going to be up to code, they’re going to be safe, there’s going to be a new fresh environment, the playground is going to be ascetically pleasing,” he said.
“I can’t put myself in their shoes and talk about what they have against it because they come from a small community school,” he added. “I can only see all the positives as an educator.”
Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, the board approved leaves of absence for caretaker Martha Siemens, educational assistant Rhonda Howells, and teachers Catherine Baron, Gerry Seaward, and Kelli Seaward.
They also approved the retirements of Robert Sawchuk and Rick Wiedenhoeft this June.
The board also heard a well report from Murray Quinn, superintendent of plant and maintenance, which outlined changes to monitoring systems of wells at six schools.