School closure committee to meet for first time

The process to close—or not to close—three district schools will enter its second stage Tuesday when the new school closure committee holds its first meeting at 7 p.m. at the board office here.
“Basically, we’re going to review the history of the Fort Frances elementary facilities review committee and explain how we got to this point,” Superintendent of Education Terry Ellwood said Monday morning.
This briefing will include presentations on the schools reviewed by last year’s committee–Alexander MacKenzie, Sixth Street School, and Alberton Central School–by Chief Financial Officer Laura Mills and Murray Quinn, superintendent of plant and maintenance.
Ellwood noted while the board was looking for more committee members earlier this month, it has filled up two spots with representatives for Sixth Street. Cam Howard and Sue Fletcher will represent.
They will join Henry Van Ael, Gary Durbin, and Andrew Gerber, who are representing Alberton, and Lorena Jenks, Gerry Seaward, and Susan Carmody representing Alexander MacKenzie.
Trustees Ron McAlister, Dan Belluz, Martin Darrah, and Frank Sheppard, along with Mills, Quinn, and Ellwood, and one school council member from each school will round out the rest of the committee.
The committee will meet until it comes up with a recommendation as to whether the board should close the three schools in question.
“We haven’t established [how regularly the committee will meet] but we’ll try to have two more meetings before Christmas break,” noted Ellwood.
“The agenda we’re looking at is to have a recommendation for the board by May or June,” he added.
Back in February, the board approved an architectural firm to make drawings to detail what a $3-million-plus expansion at J.W. Walker School here—to absorb Alexander MacKenzie and Alberton students—could look like.
 The board also is looking at closing Sixth Street School, with students there to attend a renovated Huffman.