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Etienne Brule will no longer be an elementary school

Wednesday, May 28, 2014   by: Carol Martin

The remaining 50 students attending Etienne Brule Public School will be transferred to near-by schools in September 2014, the Algoma District School Board decided at its meeting Tuesday evening.

But the building will not be closed says board Chair Jennifer Sarlo.

The board made a commitment to continue to work with people in the community to see what role the building should take in the revitalization of the city's downtown core.

"First we'll look internally," says board Director Lucia Reece. "There may be programs we would like to relocate there."

Reece said the board will then, if there is space for more programs, consult the community to see what would work well in the building.

"We're not mothballing this building," she said. "It will continue to be maintained and used." 

The board is just not sure for what at this time.

"One thing I saw around the table tonight, something I haven't seen before in this process and something that gives me hope, is emotion," said Reverend Pamela Rayment (pictured) from St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church.

Rayment, a member of the Etienne Brule Accommodation Review Committee, has been involved in the process of deciding what should be done with the school from the beginning and she's been advocating for it's continuation as a school.

On Tuesday evening she said the board's decision to close Etienne Brule Public School, the last elementary school in the Sault's downtown core, didn't really come as much of a surprise. 

"I think we all saw this coming," she said after the meeting. "But something we didn't see before was this depth of feeling. I don't think people understood how seriously they (the board) took this decision." 

Board Chair Jennifer Sarlo said the board has always been emotional about decisions to close schools and this decision was no exception.

"We all think about this very carefully throughout the process. It's never an easy decision but we have to consider the best interests of the students," she said. "That's what we're here for."

Reece agreed, saying the goal is never to close a school but, instead, to set students up for success.

"The reality is that the population of the downtown core is declining and much of what's left is transient," she told the board. "When we started to see triple grades in the school, we knew we had to take a look at it."

Just four days after the board announced the school was under review for possible closure, (in June, 2013), it became one of only 12 schools in the province to win the Premier's Award for Accepting Schools. 

As reported earlier by, community members and Ward 4 Councillor Lou Turco advocated for the school, saying it was a vital part of the downtown core.

Sarlo said a decision to close a school is always more difficult when we see that the community or parents feel so strongly about the school's continued existence as a place of education for children and the board would love to make them happy by keeping the school running, but it isn't possible.

The board wouldn't be able to afford it and the students' education would be limited. 

In this case, because the building is so important to the community and in good condition the board decided not to close it but to change it.

There may be programs that need a bigger home and perhaps other programs out there that would be a good fit for both the building and the community, said Reece.

"We have an opportunity to do more. We could offer programs and services to support families living in poverty; to help educate them," she told the board. "It's an opportunity to improve programming for our students [by transferring them to near-by schools] to all learners, and to the community."

Parents and guardians of students currently attending Etienne Brule will be consulted to see which of three area schools they would like to send the students to in September. 

(PHOTO: Reverend Pamela Rayment speaks to Algoma District School Board March 24, 2014 at Etienne Brule School. Hopper)

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.
3rd times a charm 5/28/2014 6:31:57 AM Report

Perhaps it could be turned into apartments for the homeless...
Slim Shady 5/28/2014 7:27:34 AM Report

@3rd times a charm

Its a huge property and building. I don't think that there is that many homeless people in Sault Ste. Marie?

Perhaps turn it into a training/development center for continuing education, job and career support etc.? Turn part of the building into a fitness/wellness centre with a gym that has nutrition and fitness trainers? The outdoor area could be turned into tennis, basketball courts and a nice park? Put a nice pavillion at the front by the bridge for outdoor concerts, activities?

itsme29 5/28/2014 7:48:26 AM Report

theres just not enough kids in the downtown area to justify a school... never mind programs to justify keeping it. all these "programs"already exist in other places in town....make a parking lot out of it, why waste the taxpayers dollars heating/maintaining empty buildings so they might get used for something stupid someday
Just Curious 5/28/2014 7:54:52 AM Report

Itsme 29, That's kinda what I think too. If the place isn't in good enough shape to be used as a school even if kids were bussed to it, why is it good enough to spend thousands on to convert it for other uses. It no doubt is terribly energy-inefficient and will cost an arm and leg to keep up for any other purpose. Tear it down and sell the property or make a park out of it.. A downtown dog park would be good for the hundreds of us that have no cars to get to the one being built now..
Mr. Poster 5/28/2014 7:59:31 AM Report

It is a nice piece of property for a dog park...centrally located...fenced...keep the school washrooms open for the dog owners.
Twistinwrenches 5/28/2014 7:59:50 AM Report

The school board must be into maintaining old buildings . First the boards main building downtown should be torn down , the old sir james dunn should be also . These buildings are a huge waste of taxpayers money. Is the adsb a museum society??
havenesegal 5/28/2014 8:34:03 AM Report

I love the comment about a gym with trainer who in the downtown area can afford that.I think the apartment idea was good but for housing people who are on the list of 1,000 or more people.A single person on disability gets 479$ a month for rent .I am not sure what people on welfare receive but it is much less :(
beepbeep123 5/28/2014 9:08:11 AM Report

Articles should probably be read first before the decision to comment... they are not closing the school because they cannot maintain it. It's one of the newest schools in the board, keeping it open for such a small number of students is just not cost effective and the children aren't receiving the best they can get... There is PLENTY the board can do with it.
mslife 5/28/2014 9:12:52 AM Report

Will the school still house the classrooms for young parents and their children. Many youths in our city are having babies and they need their education and programs. Or are you just going to throw away their opportunities, because they are too young to vote
Gurpy 5/28/2014 9:22:39 AM Report

The youth in this city need to STOP having babies! It has become an epidemic! The youth need education to learn how NOT to get pregnant and live a life of poverty! This is ridiculous!
Sam C 5/28/2014 9:53:08 AM Report

itsme, JustCurious... no, "those programs" are not necessarily available anywhere else.

This neighbourhood is "in transition"... people who can afford to do so are moving out to newer homes in other areas. The ones moving in are lower income who are struggling to afford what they have.

The social programs that are being provided, and others that are being explored, are needed in this area. Think about it: the Soup Kitchen, St Vincent de Paul food bank and thrift shop, John Wesley's "New-to-You" shop all provide much needed services for people from this central area.

I hardly call these programs "something stupid."

And, the last thing we really need is a "parking lot."

There are programs already in that building that will continue, and that need to be there so as to be centrally located for those who access them.

The building is in very good shape, being one of the newest schools the Board owns.

Wobbler 5/28/2014 9:54:23 AM Report

"because the building is so important to the community and in good condition the board decided not to close it but to change it.
"There may be programs that need a bigger home and perhaps other programs out there that would be a good fit for both the building and the community, said Reece."

From what I understand Brule is already a Parenting & Family Literacy Centre, which in my opinion is in a perfect program in the perfect area for people living in the downtown core. There was (or still is) "a pilot program being run by the Algoma District School Board for teen moms and dads.
What's different about this program is that the kids come along too, and not just in an on-site daycare, but actually in the classroom with their parents."

At this time as far as I know, there is nowhere for kids to go when they are expelled from school. The Ontario government requires that: "If a student is expelled, the school board must either find another school for the student or place the student in a program for expelled students." Even if there is already a place for this; Brule would be a great home for this program.

The Sault does not have a Teen Centre and this would be an excellent place for one; being that there is a fully equipped gym and a cafeteria for other activities. The downtown core is a perfect area for a centre like this.

A daycare program and after school tutoring programs could also be offered.

Etienne Brule has been a place of learning since it was built and with it being in such good condition it is a great idea to have different educational and related programs there.

There are many, many programs that the school board could offer there that would be beneficial to all of Sault Ste. Marie's future leaders and entrepreneurs.

Having a centre like this would certainly also be a draw for new citizens in Sault Ste. Marie.

Remember that positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes and negative thoughts lead to negative outcomes.......THINK POSITIVE!!!
Coo1 5/28/2014 9:55:44 AM Report

Its sad they only thought about moving the 50 students out rather then thinking about moving other students in from one of the other schools that are just horrible, like Merrifield.

Etienne Brule is a wonderful school with fantastic can't say the same about Merrifield.

Wm. Merrifield, ranks lower than Etienne Brule according to the Fraser Institute's measure of academic performance.
Sam C 5/28/2014 9:56:26 AM Report

Gurpy... no one would disagree with you, but... it happens. And those it has already happened to need this service.

This whole issue, and some of the comments, has me remembering the episode of WKRP in Cincinatti, where Johnny and Jennifer raise money to rebuild a downtown mission destroyed by fire.

Jennifer's rich friends not only will donate money, but have property in a "better neighbourhood" where a new and better mission can be built.

Johnny and some of the people who use the mission tell the rich folk that there's no point in moving the mission to a place where it is not needed.
Sam C 5/28/2014 9:58:13 AM Report

Coo1... not so! Merrifield has a wonderful, caring staff, who work very hard to provide the best opportunities possible for their students.
browl 5/28/2014 10:02:30 AM Report

Big school small daycare!! This school was a place for the children in the a Area to go and learn and not be judged now we will outsource our downtown core kids to schools outside their area with different needs. Parents will not have easy access and will have to travel to other ends of town, some in a bus for things like an appointment or forgotten lunch. And they would like to use The school for a daycare of 20 children?? I am confused as too what algoma district school board is doing
browl 5/28/2014 10:04:19 AM Report

And slim shady?? You don't think there are that many homeless in the sault?? Educate ur self on the issue ... You'd be surprised
Coo1 5/28/2014 10:22:45 AM Report

LOL sam...nope, they don't. My child had the experience to be one of the students at Eitenne Brule and also at Merrifield. It was like black and white in comparison, I wish my child could have stayed on at Eitenne Brule.....and lets just stick to the facts we can actually defend, such as the academic standings of each school.- Eitenne Brule is the better of the two.
Gurpy 5/28/2014 2:28:55 PM Report

Sam C
I understand that pregnancies happen. What I don`t understand are these young girls deliberately getting pregnant. Not just once either. When does it end? High Schools now need a daycare and programs to teach kids how to raise kids! I`m not that old but, we rarely saw a pregnant girl in high school. Government is the problem! They are not doing anything to stop it!
Frio 5/29/2014 6:45:09 AM Report

Gurpy.."Government is the problem! They are not doing anything to stop it".Could you explain how or why government is the probblem and how you expect it is going to stop irresponsible teenage girls from getting pregnant? Legislate mandatory sterilization of all girls by the age of 10?
mellow 5/30/2014 12:23:58 AM Report

ADSB sell old properties.. sink money in for a super safe school elementary school, Make a awesome school with indoor outdoor pool courts and use the nearby outdoor pool and rink Esposito.. boardwalk whitefish area for rec and learning. The catholic board has nicer elementary schools.. Amalgamate some schools here and your offices. Shut down SJD and the old board office as heard costly and such.

Total shame if a super elementary school not built at Etienne site. Seriously think outside the box with tax payers money. Kids are the future and cherish the waterfront..
Gurpy 5/30/2014 7:08:14 AM Report

Governemnt isn`t doing anything to stop it. These young girls are handed additional Ontario Works funds with every baby they have with no questions from the local office or any type of guidance, education or ACCOUNTABILITY. No one is telling them to STOP having babies they cannot support on their own! If it were more difficult at Ontario Works level for additional funding they would think twice about PLANNING another pregnancy!
Gurpy 5/30/2014 7:14:04 AM Report

I wonder what Ontario Works is doing with these single moms who parade around all day in bikini tops, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes while the kids are in school all day! I`m not implying that all of them are like that. Some are hard working moms but, there are a few in this city sitting on their rear end doing nothing when they should be volunteering or looking for a job to support themselves and their children. Why isn`t that happening?? Are some of these case workers slacking off or showing favoritisim?
Frio 5/30/2014 8:28:43 AM Report

When Mike Harris was Premier of Ontario he started talking about "Workfare" where the welfare (Ontario Works) would have required those collecting to be doing something to improve their lives and employment possibilities. This included going to school to finish at least grade 12, job training, life skills classes, make work jobs not being done by regular paid staff, getting a job even working part time and welfare would top up low earnings. It turned into a huge political fiasco where the loudest voices made it seem too degrading and humiliating to require working on self improvement, and other job skills for the cheque, they should be just left alone on the cash for life for generations as an acceptable lifestyle. So there always has been the incentive to just drop out of school and any attempt at a productive life, have babies and be paid more for each one and let the vocal social advocates play the blame game that no kids should be living in poverty. Living multi-generational on welfare has become a right not a temporary helping hand program where participants are required make the effort to prepare themselves for a life after welfare by standing on their own two feet and supporting themselves and their families.
Gurpy 5/30/2014 9:27:16 AM Report

The ones who work hard (there are some), should receive more help than the ones who are too lazy to do anything other than vegetate! I always believed they were to be doing SOMETHING productive. Don`t they sign a participation agreement? No one in the local office seems to be doing any follow up. Why?
Frio 5/30/2014 10:43:41 AM Report

Gurpy..I don't know if there is any kind of followup or requirements that are supposed to be met like attending educational upgrading, skills courses and the like.. As far as I know once signed up and approved they can just sit back and relax, payday comes every month no effort or participation required. There is a certain segment of the population who will do as little as possible to help themselves, our welfare state will always look after them so once they can get signed up for "cash" and/or benefits they are all set. Many of the people regularly in the police news have their issues with lack of education, ambition, mental health, addicition, authority,etc. and are on welfare and legal aid (taxpayers)pays for their lawyers. The government gave up on the idea that certain people should be required to work for anything, pay anything back, or contribute in a positive way for anything and find it easier to just pay them off with money collected from the taxpayers.
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