School boards still lacking direction

It will be the same old story for the new Rainy River District School Board, with trustees still waiting on the Harris government for direction in the new year.
Gordon McBride and Judy Eluik, who were elected chair and vice-chair respectively at the board’s inaugural meeting last Wednesday, said they remain in the dark on many items, ranging from funding to the role of trustees.
“We have all these trustees and they don’t know what their job is yet,” McBride noted. “[The funding model] is still a big question mark.”
“We’re left waiting with out the funding model,” echoed Eluik. “We can’t make a lot of our decisions. Now they say it won’t be until January.”
The naming of trustees to committees also has been put on hold, Eluik said, since the government hasn’t told the board what kind–and how many–need to be established.
Even with the government stuck in neutral, both McBride and Eluik said much work is yet to be done. Trustees have to develop a board policy drawing from the policies and plans from the past two boards.
“I don’t think it’s going to be too difficult but time-consuming,” said Eluik, noting trustees will have a lot of material to read over. “We’ll have to see what we want to keep and what we want to get rid of.”
“We’ll be starting to mesh them right away, probably in the later part of January,” added McBride. “It’s going to be a challenge.”
For the time being, policies and procedures will remain the same until the end of the school year in each geographical area. For example, Atikokan High School will follow the rules of the Atikokan Board of Education and Fort High the Fort Frances-Rainy River Board of Education, etc.
Trustees will have until the end of August to develop one policy for the new school board.
The fate of the Atikokan school board offices also will be decided by next August. Although Fort Frances was chosen to house the board’s main office, a sub-office has been left open in Atikokan.
“It’s interim,” McBride said, saying trustees have yet to discuss the issue of leaving a permanent sub-office in the east end. “Though we have to respect the staff in Atikokan that have given years of loyal service.”
“I think that’s going to be up the whole board to decide,” agreed Eluik, who is also the trustee representing Atikokan. “It will be something we’ll be discussing in the next six months.”
In other news from last week’s meeting here:
oChief Jim Leonard of the Rainy River First Nations was appointed to the native trustee seat;
oWayne McAndrew, former Atikokan director of education, was appointed to position of director of education and secretary of the board;
oJack McMillan was appointed to the position of chief financial officer and treasurer of the school board;
oregular business meetings have been scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month, excluding July and August (all meetings will be open to the public and start at 7 p.m. and conclude no later than 10 p.m. unless a motion is passed by the board extending the meeting to a specific time);
ocommittee of the whole meetings will be held on the third Tuesday of each months, except July and August, following the same conditions as regular business meetings;
oeach trustee will receive an annual honoraria of $5,000 over 10 equal instalments, payable on the scheduled date of each monthly meeting of the board; and
othe Fort Frances branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce was named the permanent financial institution for the board.