A Nanaimo parent, regional district senior planner and Coast Emergency Communications Association vice-president seeks election to Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools’ board of trustees.
Greg Keller, who will have two children attending Frank J. Ney school in September, says he knows how hard it has been for families struggling due to school closures, as Rutherford Elementary, a school in his catchment area closed in June. He also knows difficulties in accessing preferred educational and academy programs and uncertainty with respect to school registration and choice. He is running to “bring a voice of reason to the board table.”
“I think it’s important to take into consideration and have meaningful public consultation and make informed decisions that are evidence-based – taking a more rational, comprehensive approach to decision making, which is reflective of the interests of the community,” said Keller.
He said his priorities are student success, facilities planning and transparent governance.
“Some of the issues that are important to me are students first: making sure that we meet the unique needs of each of our students in our district … and making sure that we have open and transparent governance, which means that the board is accessible to all who have an issue, who want to present or make a delegation to appear before the board, they should be given that opportunity,” said Keller.
He also feels there is a need to consider a review of the school district’s governance model to ensure that it is reflective of current best practices and has the needs of students in mind.
“I kind of feel like there’s too much emphasis placed on important decisions at the administrative level and as an elected body, the trustees are the ultimate decision-making authority and in my view, there should be more emphasis placed on the board providing strategic direction to the district,” Keller said.
Enrolment, at one time declining, seems to be on an upswing based on numbers the last few years. Keller said one of the key issues is putting more resources and energy into community and facilities planning and ensuring the school district is a larger stakeholder at the table in its municipal partners’ planning processes.
“Working with our First Nations to make sure that the development trends we’re seeing are reflected in our facilities plan, but also the development projections are also reflected in our plan, so that we know where we are now and where we need to be in the future, so with better planning will come better understanding of our demographics, a better understanding of where we’re growing and where we’re likely to grow in the future,” said Keller.
He said he isn’t running to re-open Rutherford school, but supports a facilities plan update.
“If it is shown that there’s a need for more schools in our area, then I would support re-opening schools,” said Keller. “But what’s really important to me, because I’ve seen what happened to the folks in Cedar, is not to reverse the decision of the current board, but like I said, if the data suggests there’s a need for more facilities, then I would definitely support that and in the long term, I would definitely support maintaining that site.
“It’s probably one of the best sites we have in our region and it would be a prime location for a rebuild.”