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Elementary school recommendations kept under wraps


The Fort Frances Elementary Facilities Review Committee said yesterday it will keeping details of its three recommendations under wraps as it passes them on to be finalized by the Pupil Accommodation Committee.

“Without giving away too many details before it even gets to the committee, I can only say the three recommendations include two consolidations and the possibility of a new school,” Terry Ellwood, chair of the review committee, said at last night’s regular meeting of the Rainy River District School Board.

“The door’s still very much wide open,” he added.

The committee--comprised of trustees, administration, and school councils and principals of the six local elementary schools--held its last meeting Monday evening.

It will schedule a meeting with the Pupil Accommodation Committee within the month, noted trustee Dan Belluz.

That committee, in turn, then will have to decide whether it’s more cost-effective to consolidate some schools and merely renovate others.

Both Belluz and Ellwood said they hoped to see a decision before the next board meeting (Nov. 7).

While he was not specific, Ellwood noted some information gathered since the group first met in May definitely has impacted their recommendations.

“It’s no secret [Alexander] MacKenzie is in great need of repair. Years ago, it was a viable school, but now . . . .” he trailed off.

Also, Ellwood previously has stated Robert Moore already is at capacity of about 350 students. And while it may gain or lose some students if new school boundaries come into play, it definitely would not be closed.

And several points gleaned from notes of the committee’s second-last meeting (Sept. 11) give some indications as to possible directions of the three recommendations.

Options previously discussed included the consolidation of Alberton, MacKenzie, and Walker schools into one; the consolidation of just MacKenzie and Walker; of Huffman and Sixth Street; of MacKenzie, Walker, and Sixth Street; or of Alberton, MacKenzie, Walker, and Sixth Street.

While Huffman is part of one option, it had been found to be “structurally sound” and underwent extensive renovations over the summer.

Other feedback shows a Walker/MacKenzie consolidation was well-received by many parents of students in those schools but a move of both to the Sixth Street location was not welcomed.

And most of all, the Alberton school council and community there have been “adamant about keeping the school at [its] present location,” read the meeting notes.

In the meantime, several board members applauded the committee’s success at last night’s meeting.

“I really have to commend all the work that has gone into this--it’s a lot of data that’s been compiled,” said Education Director Warren Hoshizaki. “And that’s important to have there to back up the reason and rationale behind any decisions made.”

“The aura of the exchange was that of a team effort,” echoed Ellwood. “Everybody had their own school to represent but worked together very well.”

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