Thunder Bay·Audio

Time to look at JK to Grade 12 school in Atikokan says trustee

A school official in Atikokan says it's time to start thinking about consolidating the town's two public schools.

"We have to start thinking about that... and take a look at what best suits the needs of those kids"

Atikokan High School currently has 150 students, but that is expected to drop in the coming years. (Google streetview)
A high school and an elementary school under one roof in Atikokan? Mike Lewis is vice chair of the Rainy River District School Board is promoting that idea. 6:30

A school official in Atikokan says it's time to start thinking about consolidating the town's two public schools. 

Rainy River District School Board vice-chair Mike Lewis said as enrolment continues to decline, it will make more sense for elementary and high school students to study under one roof. 

"We've had some experience with this," he said. "Thirty years ago we moved our Grade 7s and 8s into the high school, and that's worked quite well. At the time there were people who objected to that for various reasons, and everybody has their own reasons, but it's worked really well."

Rainy River District School Board vice-chair Mike Lewis. (Supplied)

Atikokan High School currently has fewer than 150 students and within 5 years, Lewis expects it to be only 24 per cent full. 

It's a similar story at North Star Community School, where there are 140 students between junior kindergarten and Grade 6 and a projected capacity of only 34 per cent in the next five years.

Lewis said in the next few years, the province plans to eliminate some funding to under-used schools.

But, he said Atikokan schools would be able to access special funding to combine the two facilities, possibly by renovating one of the existing school buildings.

He said right now, his goal is just to get people thinking about the idea. 

"We have to start thinking about that and get some meetings together, get some thoughts, get the ministry on side, and take a look at what best suits the needs of those kids," Lewis said. 

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