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Deputy education minister visiting here

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Transportation and special education funding are topics that will be brought up by both the local public and Catholic school boards here Thursday when they meet with deputy education minister Suzanne Herbert.

Both boards have been spending more than their budgets in the area of transportation for several years as the ministry has yet to revamp its funding model.

“The problem is the formula. It was frozen in 1997 and because the board was frugal that year, the funding has remained at that same level,” Warren Hoshizaki, education director with the Rainy River District School Board, noted previously.

“Even with the $94,000 we got [due to the Ontario Small Town and Rural Development Initiative announced in May], we continue to spend more than we’re budgeted for,” he added.

Special education also is an area where both boards have overspent for at least the past two years.

“Special education has been a real issue lately,” said Carol-Lynne Oldale, education director for the Northwest Catholic District School Board. “I think there’s some changes that could be made to better meet the needs of students.

“[Tomorrow’s meeting] is a chance for stakeholders to meet with a someone in a fairly high-ranking government position,” she added.

Two other topics the public school board plans to bring up with Herbert include school closures and Bill 74.

In related news, Superintendent of Education Terry Ellwood said yesterday the Pupil Accommodation Committee, which will decide which local public schools will be amalgamated and/or closed, is slated to meet Nov. 21.

But he couldn’t say if any decisions would be made after that one meeting.

“The trustees have a lot of information to look at. But from here on, they have the ball,” noted Ellwood.

Before heading to Fort Frances tomorrow afternoon, Herbert will spend 15 minutes to officially “open” the Northwest Videoconferencing Consortium during a videoconference at the Kenora Education Centre.

Consortium members include the local Catholic board, Keewatin-Patricia District School Board, Lakehead University, Superior North Catholic District School Board, and Superior-Greenstone District School Board.

Upon arriving here, Herbert first will meet with school councils for an hour (4-5 p.m.), then have supper with trustees and the heads of both boards from 5:30-7 p.m.

She’ll meet with principals and senior teaching staff early Friday, followed by a tour of Fort High from 9:30-10:45 a.m.

Her last stop will be at St. Michael’s School (11-12:15 p.m.) before she departs at 2 p.m.

Herbert’s visit is not considered open to the public.

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