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Fort recommended to house board office

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Unless the incoming trustees decide against it, Fort Frances will house the board office for the new public school board, as well as take over payroll operations.

The recommendation for the board office to remain here was made by the local Education Improvement Committee at a meeting here Monday morning.

Wilma Sletmoen, chairwoman of the Fort Frances-Rainy River Board of Education and co-chair of the LEIC, said the decision was a fairly easy one to make.

"The main reason being, geographically, Fort Frances is about centre," she explained.

Local education director John McLeod said the payroll decision was even easier to make. Since Atikokan contracts out its payroll work and the board here doesn’t, the ABE’s payroll will be assimilated as of Jan 1.

"We both deal with CIBC so we were lucky in that case," he added, noting switching banks would have been a tremendous hassle.

The LEIC also chose the new board’s name--the Rainy River District School Board. McLeod said it was an call for the LEIC to make.

"This made sense," McLeod said. "We cover the the Rainy River District. The new board can change it but on Jan 1, we need cheques and payroll."

Wayne McAndrew, the current education director for the Atikokan Board of Education, was recommended as the board’s interim director until the end of the 1997-98 school year.

"That was the logical thing to do," Sletmoen said, noting McLeod will retire from his position at the end of December. "And yet we haven’t tied the new board’s hands or his."

While other boards may be struggling with the amalgamation process, McLeod and Sletmoen both said things are progressing smoothly here.

McLeod believed much of that had to do with the fact that two relatively similar boards are merging here, as opposed to three, four or even five different ones.

"These are big decisions in other boards, yet not so big here," he said.

"We had a very productive and smooth meeting," echoed Sletmoen. "The recommendations seem to be ones that were common sense."

The next LEIC meeting is set for Friday, Oct. 3 in Atikokan. Before then, both LEIC co-chairs and the two education directors will be flying to Toronto to meet with the provincial Education Improvement Commission.

"We’re hoping they’ll give us some idea of the funding model," McLeod said. "We’ve been waiting for the money breakdowns to see what we’re dealing with."

"We just need to know the issues," Sletmoen stressed. "Dollars are going to affect what recommendations we can make to the new board."

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