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Etienne Brule is vital to downtown, says committee

Wednesday, March 26, 2014   by: Donna Hopper

Last evening during a special public meeting of the Algoma District School Board (ADSB), trustees heard from three members of the Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) for Etienne Brule Public School - Reverend Pamela Rayment (pictured) from St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Ward 4 City Councillor Lou Turco, and parent Tracey Hilderley.

While senior ADSB administration recommends relocating existing Etienne Brule students to other schools in the area, the Accommodation Review Committee cited a number of reasons to continue operating the school, including its continuously increasing academic success, convenient location, community value, and the overall good condition of the facility.

Located on Albert Street West, Etienne Brule is the only elementary school that remains in the Sault's downtown area.

Citing decreasing enrolment, the ADSB has in recent years removed Grades 4 through 8 from Etienne Brule in order to avoid triple grades.

Should ADSB trustees vote to close the school, it recommends using the facility for existing and expanded community programs and services while relocating existing students to other area schools, the most viable being Wm. Merrifield, Kiwedin, Queen Elizabeth, or Northern Heights.

A report regarding the possible closure of Etienne Brule was submitted to ADSB trustees for consideration.

Many of the recommendations contained within the report directly contradict those put forth by the ADSB senior administration.

"In our recommendation, the community element and additional Board programming was put forth primarily because Etienne Brule is, first and foremost, an educational facility. The community and Board programming would then offer additional benefits to the students already present in the outstanding educational community that is Etienne Brule," said Reverend Rayment in her presentation.

"A daycare and on-going summer programming for children in this location would be helpful to the residents in this area of our city," she continued. "But the residents include the students of Etienne Brule, and a partnership between education and community, we believe, would expand students' horizons. Moving the students, in our opinion, defeats this goal."

Hilderley, a parent of an existing Etienne Brule student, expressed her agreement, stating: "If it wasn't for the Parent Family Literacy Centre at Etienne Brule, I'd still be lost [as a parent] today and might not have felt as comfortable introducing my four-year-old to the world of acquiring education. What a wonderful service and program for parents to go and grow with their children. It is absolutely imperative that this program stay right where it is as the need for it in the downtown area is quickly growing."

It was also noted during last night's presentation that the closest and most likely school for the relocation of students, Wm. Merrifield, ranks lower than Etienne Brule according to the Fraser Institute's measure of academic performance.

In fact, from 2009 through 2013, Etienne Brule has consistently increased its Fraser Institute academic ranking.

"Given this, we struggle to see the benefits of moving students from Etienne Brule where they are receiving not only a commitment to ongoing improved academic achievement, but are also thriving socially in their current environment," Reverend Rayment told trustees.

The ARC recommends extending provisions currently offered at the school to include Grades 4 through 6 and suggest including students from other schools that are not functioning to capacity as early as September 2014.

Benefits of maintaining and even expanding Etienne Brule include access to early childhood education, recreation programs, community development, neighbourhood engagement, childcare opportunities, parenting programs, and the encouragement of overall health and wellness, Reverend Rayment explained.

Turco spoke to trustees of the history of education in the downtown area and the benefits of proposed downtown improvements, developments and community initiatives.

"The City is undertaking targeted capital improvements throughout the downtown to encourage a sense of place, including street scape improvements throughout the downtown community, park development, and to develop and create a better residential environment, which means families," he said. "The proximity to a school is a major consideration for many people when choosing where to live."

At the February 3, 2014 meeting of City Council, a motion was carried that cited City and private sector commitments to downtown development projects, and stated that "City Council request the Algoma District School Board to consider the negative effects on both the existing and future residential development in the downtown area associated with the possible closure of Etienne Brule public school as part of the accommodation review process."

ADSB trustees will take the next 60 days to review the report and recommendations presented by the ARC and City Council before making its final decision.

To review ARC and ADSB administration reports regarding Etienne Brule, please click here.

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
SuperiorNorth 3/26/2014 8:46:14 PM Report

This school must stay open.
If we want to see the revitalization of downtown we cannot lose the last school in the area. Families do not move to areas without schools. Businesses do not invest. Property values are nil. The St. Mary's paper development will not flourish.
We have already seen the demise of our downtown core. If we are going to attempt to have families and businesses reinvest in the area, & if we are to use our tax dollars to fund a satellite police office, then we must fight to save this school.
It should be the beginning of reinvestment in the area, not the end.
Shortz 3/26/2014 8:51:21 PM Report

Has ARC ever beem able to prevent a school closure? I was present for the Alexander Henry ARC process, and even though the fact that the school had, and was currently, assisting students that had social and/or academic issues turned out to be irrelevamt, and it was closed anyways. It comes down to the almighty $$ and if the school board can get ahead budget wise at all, they'll close it, regardless of any benefit the school has to the community. As far as I'm concerned, the ARC process is nothing more than a formality that the Board goes through before they close the school anyways.
Javaman 3/26/2014 9:20:34 PM Report

Due to budget considerations I am sure the board has already made its decision. By allowing input after the fact they make parents feel they at least had a say.Keep in mind...schools and school boards are a business first.
Sam C 3/26/2014 9:20:42 PM Report

Shortz... indeed, several schools have been "saved" by the ARC, including Queen Elizabeth.
lizzardskills 3/26/2014 9:50:48 PM Report

I transferred my child out of this school and still have regrets. Sending her to a neighbouring school was a huge mistake. Surprisingly, the "bullying" and not nice behaviour was more frequent and severe in a middleclass neighbourhood school area. If they went back to teaching up to grade 7-8 I would send her back there.
kamen 3/26/2014 10:02:00 PM Report

I say keep it for now, but maybe plan to rebuild it in the next 5-10 is starting to look a little dreary and run down...
Alystr 3/26/2014 10:02:36 PM Report

This school was a top notch school 30 plus years ago. That being said, is there even another public school within 20 minutes of that school? (walking)
Prrrrrrr 3/26/2014 10:29:58 PM Report

Have you ever been to the board office? Go for a visit...they need to downsize THEIR SPACE and THEIR STAFF!!! Cut the fat!
Maleficent 3/26/2014 10:59:03 PM Report

Students older than grade 3 now go to William Merrifield public school. They get on the bus at 8am and off at 4:40 (or thereabouts). We are trying to revitalize our downtown core.. how? By removing hospitals and medical care, removing churches.. and of course removing community schools. A very sad state for good ol' Sault Ste Marie.
mellow 3/26/2014 11:24:09 PM Report

I support the school staying open and expansion of an indoor pool for central and west end kids especially. The current outdoor pool is not utilized as and we have long winters city and ADSB should work on this as a joint effort. Aging seniors and various citizens would benefit as a rink is also close by. Furthermore Whitefish Island, the boardwalk, and part of the Hub Trail is close by. The students and intercity kids would benefit from simple outings for social skills and appreciate the surroundings of the downtown. Many families keep things simple or may be more high risk. It is not fair thought to stereotype the kids in this are and label them. It takes a village to raise a child. Etienne Brule School along with the church and soup kitchen etc. see various volunteers and good folks who make time for these kids.

I also know the seniors center is close by and they may want to mentor with kids for some programs or activities.

There is countless positives to keeping this school open. I say close William Merrifield and Northern Heights make a better super school and pool at this site etc. Also Grand BLVD area would benefit if land sold for new housing William Merrifield is not close to the sites like Etienne is.. This would cut down on the need for buses for field trips..

I am certain an amazing super school can be built here to support three amalgamated schools and be close to the waterfront. Esposito Rink and revamp a ne pool site... That is my vision. Kids would benefit for generations.. Keep some heritage down town.. many immigrants grew up near downtown and Steelton.. Revamp this area with hope and pride.
Dug 3/27/2014 9:37:57 AM Report

Mellow... I like your ideas.
bulletcards 3/27/2014 11:00:49 AM Report

close it down. we don't need it. how can you justify keeping a whole school open, paying utilities, removing snow, etc. for so few students? Just like the highschools, there is no need and to expensive to keep all of these old decaying schools open
!@# 3/27/2014 12:15:42 PM Report

People are one breath they speak about saving taxpayer money....and then in the next its comments like, "its always about the almighty dollar"...well let me help all the selfish people of the cannot have it both ways depending on how it effects you....either you believe in saving taxpayer dollars and thus schools not viable must close or you believe schools should remain open regardless if they cost taxpayers money.....but it should NOT depend on how it effects you depending on the circumstances that fall upon you....
mslife 3/27/2014 1:48:33 PM Report

Parent Family Literacy Centre at Etienne Brule, is Extremely important for the youth who have infants. they are the poorest and most vulnerable of our youth population. This program is of great value to teen moms and their babies.
Why would you see a need to destroy a program of such importance and value???
These moms and some dads will be able to get off welfare in their future, because they will have received a quality education!!! Their children will be healthier and safer because of their parents had an opportunity to learn how to parent.
ARVIE 3/27/2014 3:17:42 PM Report

I appreciate the financial realities and population distribution issues that the board has to address, however I believe that it is in the best interests of the Sault to keep Etienne Brule open to children in that area. I have been impressed by the teaching staff, students and general atmosphere of the is an essential asset to a disadvantaged part of our community. It is a meeting place. The students and parents are proud of their school. Show some leadership...sometimes doing the right thing is not always the financially safe way...but it will pay off in the long run!
mellow 3/27/2014 9:44:27 PM Report

I think solar panels on a few schools would make sense. School boards in southern Ontario have several done with grants and they raise money for the schools.
mellow 3/27/2014 9:46:23 PM Report

Some folks with odd statements best not lose their day jobs.. Interesting to say the least..
mamma 3/28/2014 12:02:37 AM Report

Javaman you sound just like SkipperDave. When I read your comment I thought, that is exactly what he would have thought. I believe you are not far from the truth.
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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