Greater Essex County District School board

New chairs elected at both public and Catholic school boards

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

There will be new leaders at both the Greater Essex County District School Board and the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.

Jessica Sartori and Fulvio Valentinis were named chairs of their respective boards – public and Catholic – last Tuesday night. Both trustees are from Windsor.

At the public board meeting, Sartori was chosen by her colleagues over former vice chair Ron LeClair, the Amherstburg/LaSalle trustee.

LeClair believed he was the person for the job based on his three years of experience as the public board’s vice chair and believed he was ready for the challenge of being chair. However, it was Sartori whom his fellow trustees elected.

Sartori, who will lead the public board for 12 months, said the Greater Essex County District School Board has an “important role” and believed the education of children plays an important role in the economy of the community. She said the board has innovative programming to respond to the needs of its communities.

LeClair also sought the vice chair position again, stating he would support Sartori in her role as chair. He noted his job with the Windsor Police Service is flexible to where he could attend the board office for meetings or other necessary duties. However, after two tied votes, Kingsville/Essex trustee Julia Burgess had her name drawn from a hat and was named to the vice chair position.

LeClair would be named to the Greater Essex County District School Board’s audit committee later in the meeting.

The Greater Essex County District School Board elected its chair and vice chair at its Dec. 4 meeting.

Valentinis will take over as chair of the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, while Lisa Soulliere will continue on in her position as vice-chair. Valentinis, first elected as a Catholic trustee in 2014, was acclaimed as chair as was Soulliere, the latter having been a trustee since 2000.

“This is an excellent time to be assuming a leadership position with this board,” said Valentinis, who prior to coming to the WECDSB spent 20 years as a councillor with the City of Windsor. “Our student

achievement results are consistently above provincial averages, we’re in a sound financial position, and we continue to offer some of the most innovative programming of any school board in this province.”

Valentinis takes over the position from Barbara Holland, who left the Catholic board after 18 years of service. Valentinis praised Holland for the work she has done as chair since 2012.

“Barb is a great leader,” Valentinis said. “She demonstrated an excellent ability to build consensus through working with administration and her fellow trustees in order to meet the strategic objectives of our organization, and to make sure the needs of our students and their families were always being met.”

Elections for the position of chair and vice-chair are held on an annual basis at the Catholic board as well.

Valentinis said his priorities for the next term include continuing to prudently manage the board’s resources, upgrading its facilities, expanding its innovative programming, and promoting faith-based education. Soulliere, who represents the Lakeshore area said her priorities for the next term include ensuring that the board’s resources are managed so that student achievement remains the number one concern.

Frank DiTomasso is the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board trustee for Amherstburg/LaSalle.

 

LeClair returning for another term, new high school a priority

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

There will not be a race for public school board trustee in Amherstburg and LaSalle.

Ron LeClair was acclaimed as the Greater Essex County District School Board trustee and is happy to be able to return for another four years.

“Being acclaimed is something I wasn’t expecting,” said LeClair. “Now that it’s happened, I want to focus on the next four years.”

One of LeClair’s major focuses will be what happens on the Centennial Park site.

“From the perspective of the Town of Amherstburg, I want to see the completion of the new high school sooner rather than later,” said LeClair. “We put a lot of work and effort in identifying the site.”

LeClair said the first step was to provide the template and rooms required to the province. The next step will be to get some drawings of what the new school will look like.

Ron LeClair has been acclaimed for another four-year term as the trustee for Amherstburg and LaSalle with the Greater Essex County District School Board.

“I hope to see some drawings soon,” LeClair stated.

Public input will also be coming, he added, into what the new school will look like.

“There will be some public opportunities moving forward,” said LeClair. “We always engage the public on large projects.”

LeClair indicated consultations will also include teachers as well as the general public.

“I’m confident we’ll be able to build something good for the community,” he said.

With the school to be built on the southern 15 acres of the Centennial Park site, LeClair said that it is in the “downtown area” and that many students will be able to walk to school. Road access is “suitable” and LeClair believes it will be “more traffic friendly” for the town as school-related traffic will be moved off of Sandwich St. S. where the current General Amherst High School is located.

“You are getting traffic off of the main road,” he said. “I think it will be a positive location.”

LeClair added that he is confident that proper entrances and exits will be constructed with the best interest of traffic flow in mind. The school will be built to accommodate 819 students and is tentatively scheduled to be ready for the 2020-21 school year.

“We will have some field sport space,” he stated, though it does not appear there will be a track at this point. As for what is done with the 12 acres of Centennial Park that the public board did not purchase, LeClair said that is up to the municipality.

“What the town does with the remaining portion is a municipal issue,” he said.

The new public high school in Amherstburg is not the only new build that LeClair is looking forward to. He noted he is also wanting to see the completion of the new Prince Andrew Public School in LaSalle. That new elementary school will be constructed on Judy Recker Dr., near the Vollmer Complex.

The Greater Essex County District School Board is building the new public high school on the southern 15 acres of Centennial Park (blue shaded area).
(Image courtesy of www.publicboard.ca)

LeClair touted the Greater Essex County District School Board’s math task force and he would like to see that continue.

“We’ve all been very supportive of that,” he said.

Supporting the trades and assisting robotics programs are initiatives LeClair would also like to pursue further.

“I’ve seen the success those programs have had with students,” he said.

Building on academic and financial successes are also priorities, with LeClair noting that the public board is close to eliminating its outstanding debt.

“I’m looking forward to working with the community to make Amherstburg a great place to live and attend school,” he said.

 

“Student Pix” on exhibit at Gibson Gallery through June 3

 

The Gibson Art Gallery has hung young photographers’ work on its walls for the 13th time.

The annual Student Pix exhibit features the work of both primary and secondary school students from within the Greater Essex County District School Board.

Professional photographers and artists judge the photos and assign winners.  Winners are broken into categories according to grade level and photographic medium.

“It’s an exhibit the public looks forward to,” said Bonnie Deslippe, the gallery’s administrator.  “People like to see what these kids have created.”

Deslippe noted that this year is an interesting one, since one of the “Best in Show” awards was granted to a grade schooler.  Addison Slater, a Kingsville Public School student, won for her digitally-enhanced image.  Normally, she said, the winner comes from the senior division, which includes grades 9-12.

This year, around 250 photos were submitted.  Of them, 37 winners were announced:

 

PRIMARY – Black and White

Kate Winney

Sebastien Allison

Ava Soucie

 

PRIMARY – Colour

Kate Winney

Sebastien Allison

Ava Soucie

 

PRIMARY – Digitally Enhanced

Sebastien Allison

Dale Richardson explores the 13th annual Student Pix exhibit at the Gibson Art Gallery in Amherstburg. The exhibit will run through June 3. (Photo by Jonathan Martin)

JUNIOR – Black and White

Isabelle Soucie

Elliana O’Neill

Brianna Gignac

 

JUNIOR – Colour

Meredith Reynolds

Claire Bolton

Isabelle Soucie

 

JUNIOR – Digitally Enhanced

Minji Kim

Claire Stockwell

Claire Bolton

 

INTERMEDIATE – Black and White

Marin Van Wagner

Parker Mosey

Julia Balkwill

 

JUNIOR – Colour

Nefertari Powell

Mila Vasquez

Grace Rivett

 

JUNIOR – Digitally Enhanced

Aleksandra Milic

Morgan Churchill

Ava Claridge

 

SENIOR – Black and White

Ashley Injic

Julia Sanders

Dilinaer Aiyireti

 

SENIOR – Colour

Sydney Cremasco

Chyenne Wilson

Celina Duguay

Sommer Franz

 

SENIOR – Digitally Enhanced

Mariffe Boycott

Kevin Baker

Joslyn Gagnier

 

BEST IN SHOW – Black and White

Alyssa Ferrera

 

BEST IN SHOW – Colour

Sommer Franz

 

BEST IN SHOW – Digitally Enhanced

Addison Slater

 

The exhibit will continue hanging until June 3, when a closing reception will be held from 2-4 p.m.  The students will be formally presented with their awards at 3 p.m.

The Gibson Art Gallery is open from Thursday-Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Local volunteer recognized as a “Champion for Education”

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Darrie-Ann Richard has been volunteering at Anderdon Public School for about nine years and that has led her to winning an award.

Richard was one of ten people or groups recognized by the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) as a “Champion for Education” during the public board’s April 17 meeting.

“I’m very overwhelmed,” said Richard. “I received an e-mail (notifying her that she was a recipient) three weeks ago.”

Awards were accompanied by certificates with reasoning of why the “Champions for Education” were nominated. They were read aloud at the board meeting by GECDSB public relations officer Scott Scantlebury.

Darrie-Ann Richard was one of the “Champions for Education” that were recognized last Tuesday night by the Greater Essex County District School Board. From left: director of education Erin Kelly, board chair Kim McKinley, Richard and board vice-chair and Amherstburg/LaSalle trustee Ron LeClair.

“Darrie-Ann has a profound appreciation for literature and the arts, both of which she has helped spread throughout the Anderdon Public School community,” Scantlebury read. “She’s the parent of two students, an Anderdon graduate and a current Mustang. But a perceptive youngster has discerned her secret identity. She is the Book Fairy.”

Richard was described as “an enthusiastic co-ordinator of the school’s annual book fair” for over nine years. She has also served as a guest reader in classrooms and has staged school events as birthday parties for Dr. Seuss.

Richard joked the staff at Anderdon is “sneaky” and that if she had known they were going to nominate her, she wouldn’t have let them. Much of the staff attended the board meeting in support of Richard.

“I just like being at the school with the kids,” she said. “It’s nice being part of the community.”

Darrie-Ann Richard is surrounded by her family as well as Anderdon Public School staff and students after being recognized as a “Champion for Education” April 17.

The staff allows her to be around the students and work with the kids, she said. Richard also helps with the school plays, as Anderdon is staging “Willy Wonka Jr.” May 2-4.

“The staff is outstanding,” said Richard. “It’s a special place. They are a very supportive bunch. To have them all here was a little bit overwhelming. They made me feel welcome from the very first day.”

Richard added her husband travels for his job and she uses her time helping the students at Anderdon Public School. She noted she enjoys being involved with literacy and the arts at the Middle Side Road elementary school.

“It’s fun to be a part of it,” she said.

New public high school location revealed

By Ron Giofu

 

The location of the new public high school has finally been revealed.

The town will sell 15 acres of the southern portion of Centennial Park to the Greater Essex County District School Board for $2,457,000 with the town putting the proceeds into a parkland reserve. The town will retain 12 acres on the northern end of the park.

The new 819-student high school will house both General Amherst High School students and Western Secondary School students with the estimated opening date being Sept. 2020.

“Amherstburg is getting a single location, dual high school that will be state of the art,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “We’re ecstatic.”

Greater Essex County District School Board and town officials were pleased with the announcement that Centennial Park will house the new school to replace the current General Amherst and Western. From left: board chair Kim McKinley, CAO John Miceli, GECDSB director of education Erin Kelly, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Amherstburg/LaSalle trustee Ron LeClair.

DiCarlo said the location is close to the downtown area and keeps students close to downtown businesses. It also enables many students to continue to walk to school, he noted.

The mayor called it “incredible” news and gave his thanks to the school board officials.

(UPDATE – As for the fate of the pool, tennis courts and baseball diamonds, DiCarlo told the RTT Wednesday afternoon: “All of these amenities are being considered in the context of the parks master plan and where they will be located.”)

Erin Kelly, director of education with the Greater Essex County District School Board, said the board has selected an architect and will be moving forward with the design process. She believed they would be able to combine the two schools and meet the needs of all the students.

Kelly said they will try and get a shovel in the ground as soon as possible.

“There’s a lot of decisions to be made,” she noted.

CAO John Miceli said the town is “really excited” because of the fact the new school will provide additional opportunities for the municipality. Additional community use could arise with the new school and programming could be developed for after-school hours.

The Ontario government has already put $24.3-million towards the new public high school. As for the current building, Miceli indicated the town has its eyes on it and the board has its ears open for those plans.

“It’s in a strategic location in the Town of Amherstburg,” said Miceli. “The board is willing to listen.”

The CAO added: “There’s more to come.”

Miceli also thanked the public board’s administration for working with the town to arrive at the agreement.

Ron LeClair, trustee for Amherstburg and LaSalle, indicated there are opportunities for co-operative education that will be within walking distance for students.

“This is wonderful news for the board and the Town of Amherstburg,” he said. “This is a win-win for the board and the town.”

While admitting “I can’t wait to get a shovel in the ground,” LeClair also said they have to complete the design phase first.

Councillor Leo Meloche noted the importance of the school to the community, and said parents and students alike appreciate the effort. Councillor Diane Pouget also offered praise to the public board for working with the town.

“It’s a special spot for many of us,” she said.

Pouget added there is work being done that would eventually allow for over 1,700 building lots to be created in town, but Kelly noted they have to build based on the students they currently have. If an addition were needed in the future, the board could seek further funding from the province, she suggested.

Councillor Rick Fryer said the new school’s inclusion of skilled trades for students is important and called it “an excellent idea.”

The announcement to sell 15 of the 27 acres in Centennial Park to the public board was met with applause by those in attendance at Monday night’s meeting.