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TOP NEWS STORIES: Protests greet school consolidation plan

Students from Cedar Community School protest Nanaimo school board
Students from Cedar Community School protest Nanaimo school board's decision to turn their school into an elementary school.
— image credit: News Bulletin file

The storm of controversy surrounding Nanaimo school district’s 10-year Enhanced Facilities for Learning Plan in 2013 doesn’t look to die down in 2014.

Recommendations from consultant and former West Vancouver school superintendent Doug Player, released in April, included a number of school closures, raising the ire of parents.

South Wellington Elementary was closed last June and the closure of Cedar Community Secondary School is scheduled for the end of this school year with conversion to an elementary school to follow.

The Cedar closure prompted legal action in December from the Snuneymuxw First Nation, citing improper consultation regarding closure. More litigation could follow as the grassroots organization Save the Cedar Schools Coalition is also in the process of weighing its legal options.

“Obviously, it’s an expensive venture but we’ve had a community meeting about it, we know what our options are and we’re just speaking with attorneys right now on how we proceed,” said coalition spokesman Steve Rae, adding that joining the Snuneymuxw suit or filing one of its own could be directions the coalition heads in.

Rae said the Office of the B.C. Ombudsperson has also been contacted regarding an investigation on the Cedar situation.

School district spokeswoman Donna Reimer said the district is planning on filing a response to the Snuneymuxw lawsuit and is moving ahead with its plans.

“The district is proceeding with its planning for the transition of Cedar Secondary students to John Barsby and Ladysmith Secondary and the architects are planning the conversion of Cedar Secondary into an elementary school,” she said. “The outcome of the court case will determine whether we can put our plans into place. None of the steps we are taking at this point are irreversible.”

Reimer said the Cedar school conversion work will take a year, with the elementary school opening in September 2015.

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