Former Pinewood School could host students from remote First Nations
By Chris Marchand
Dryden city councillors got an early glimpse of Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB) plan to convert Pinewood School into a residence and educational facility for up to 72 aboriginal students and four supervisory staff.
The plan came before council, Monday night, in the form of a bylaw zoning application from the KPDSB attached to a request to schedule a public meeting to present the zoning bylaw amendment information and allow the public to make presentations in respect to the proposed bylaw.
That public meeting has been scheduled for 5 p.m. May 15 in council chambers.
KPDSB director of Education Jack McMaster says the plan is in a preliminary conceptual phase and is being developed with partner Keewaytinook Okimakanak. It has yet to come before board trustees for approval. The concept would mirror Ear Falls’ Northern Eagle School, which helps First Nations students from remote communities make the often difficult transition to high school in the urban setting.
“When First Nations kids from the north come to high schools in the region, on average they are a couple years behind academically,” said KPDSB Director of Education Jack McMaster. “The idea is to bring their academic experience up and then transition them to high schools in the region.”
McMaster says that families in remote northern communities are increasingly looking for educational opportunities outside of remote First Nations away from social problems that pose significant challenges to youth.
“We’re seeing more and more families leaving the northern communities,” said McMaster. “I think it’s an opportunity for us to help close that gap, but also have the families view our communities as educational opportunities for their kids.”