If the truth be known, the Rainy River District School Board is surprised—and disappointed—over the relative lack of feedback on its proposed expansion of J.W. Walker School here while closing Alexander MacKenzie and Alberton Central schools.
About 10 years ago, when Alexander MacKenzie was first on the chopping block, a vocal group of parents banded together in a fight to save their neighbourhood school. They won, prompting the board to shelve closure, at least for the time being, while agreeing to examine all the local elementary schools under its jurisdiction rather than just target one right from the outset.
It also was clear at the time that bitter feelings still surrounded the closure of the McIrvine School years earlier—and that those living in the far west end of town and Alberton wouldn’t stand to see another of “their” schools closed.
That was then. This is now—and the silence is deafening.
Are people more apathetic these days? Do they think this is all a done deal, anyway, so why bother to give their input? Or maybe they now accept that this is the best route the board can take to improve the quality of their children’s education?
J.W. Walker, sitting just a few blocks away from Alexander MacKenzie, arguably can still be considered a “neighbourhood” school for residents in that part of town. And out in Alberton, students there typically attend J.W. Walker after grade six anyway.
Furthermore, low enrolment at Alberton Central means fewer grants to fix up the building—and offer better classroom resources.
The other difference now is that the school board isn’t prepared to make a decision until the public has been consulted, rather than the other way around. Obviously, people get more riled up when they feel they haven’t been consulted, or a decision is being rammed down their throats.
Take the time to have your say at the public session next Wednesday, whether it’s to agree with the plan, offer suggests to improve it, or flat out fight to keep your school open.
Use this chance to be part of the decision, instead of just complaining about it afterwards.