Sixth Street, MacKenzie earmarked for closure

The closure process for three district schools will enter its third phase later this month when the Rainy River District School Board holds a public meeting to decide their fates.
“There is a committee of the whole meeting on Dec. 18. At that time, trustees will receive the report and possibly act to go through the closures,” vice-chair Dan Belluz said at Tuesday night’s regular monthly board meeting here.
“The Alexander MacKenzie and Sixth Street sub-committees have decided to close but Alberton wanted more time, so we gave them until [Dec. 18],” he added.
Sub-committees from each schools held meetings last month to come up with reports as to what parents and their respective school communities liked and didn’t like about the possibility of seeing students attend an expanded J.W. Walker.
The school closure committee met Nov. 27 to receive these reports.
Data gathered on MacKenzie showed advantages of moving to the expanded J.W. Walker clearly outweighed any disadvantages, with reduced split grades, enhanced programming, more handicapped, special education, and athletic services, and a better playground.
The only disadvantage was student displacement during the construction process, said the report.
There would be only a minimum, if any, effect on busing for MacKenzie students, it found.
The committee also noted the MacKenzie property is a prime area for re-development and could be re-zoned for residential use.
If MacKenzie is not closed, extensive upgrading will be required there, including ensuring handicap access, and upgrading walkways and parking areas.
The committee reported the advantages of moving from Sixth Street to the new J.W. Walker would be very similar, but disadvantages would include losing a very large playground, a skating rink, and close proximity to the day care centre.
Also, there would need to be one additional bus route.
But if Sixth Street isn’t closed, extensive upgrading also will be required there, including handicap accessibility, walkways, and parking areas.
And like with MacKenzie, the report said the property was prime for re-development and could be re-zoned for residential use.
But the picture isn’t so clear with Alberton. Unlike the other two schools, the advantages at their current school outnumber any gained from a move to J.W. Walker, noted the report.
For instance, while the new school would be a modern facility with a reduced possibility of split grades, and a handicapped-access washroom, the sub-committee felt advantages at Alberton include a child-friendly rural area, shorter bus rises, better outdoor air quality, having split grades, and easy parent access to the school.
The sub-committee also felt if the children go to J.W. Walker, they’ll find themselves in a congested area, which is more difficult to supervise and students may be lured away from school property.
While the sub-committee also noted most students from Alberton would end up going to J.W. Walker if Alberton is closed, some may go to Crossroads, take home schooling, or attend to a Catholic school.
The committee of the whole meeting is slated Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. in the board’s new meeting place on the main floor of Robert Moore School.