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District hires consultant to help develop facilities plan

Nanaimo school officials obtained some outside help to develop a facilities plan for the district.

The district’s newly approved strategic plan calls for development of a facilities plan by April and staff hired Doug Player, a former superintendent of the West Vancouver School District, to help them meet this goal. The contract with Player is worth about $20,000.

The strategic plan consists of three goals – meet each student’s needs; continuous improvement of instruction and assessment; and enhanced facilities for learning – and strategies to achieve these goals.

One of the strategies is development of a 10-year facilities plan by April that takes into account optimal school sizes at the elementary level of 200-400 students and at the secondary level of 600-1,000 students.

Donna Reimer, school district spokeswoman, said Player’s role is to co-ordinate the plan development process because a lot of work will go into this project and the district has set a tight time frame for completion of the work. Player will also bring an outside perspective to the plan, she added.

Senior staff in educational services and facilities departments will work together on the plan and Player will talk with a variety of stakeholders to get their ideas on what should be done, said Reimer.

Jamie Brennan, school board chairman, said the plan needs to be brought forward in April because if there are any school closure recommendations for next fall, there must be sufficient time for public consultations before the end of the school year.

He said it is likely the plan will include school closure recommendations because some of the district’s schools are not in the optimal size outlined in the plan.

“It’s important that schools are of the right size that we can offer a full array of programs,” said Brennan. “You can’t continue to operate sound educational programs where you have three-grade split classes.”

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