District schedules facilities plan consultation meetings

The two-month public consultation process on Nanaimo school district's proposed 10-year facilities plan is nearing the halfway marker.

By Jenn McGarrigle

The News Bulletin

 

The two-month public consultation process on Nanaimo school district’s proposed 10-year facilities plan is nearing the halfway mark.

But parents, students, district employees and community members can still have a say at any of the four meetings scheduled for next month: June 12 at Cedar Secondary School for all Cedar and John Barsby-zone schools; June 13 at Woodlands Secondary School for all NDSS and Woodlands-zone schools; June 17 at Ladysmith Secondary School for the Ladysmith area; and June 19 at Dover Bay Secondary School for all Dover Bay and Wellington-zone schools.

Consultation began April 26 with a separate online public engagement process for each school in the district as well as one for the general public.

Donna Reimer, school district spokeswoman, said in each online process, people were asked to share their thoughts on the plan. Similar thoughts will be grouped together and then the feedback returned to participants to prioritize.

“It gives us a really good idea of the concerns people have, what they see as the positives,” she said, adding the response so far has been good, with more than 4,000 thoughts collected from participants as of last week.

The goal is to have the online process finished by June 11 – in time for a report on feedback at the public meetings.

People can also write a letter to the school board until June 24.

Reimer said district officials are meeting with parent advisory groups at all schools to share information and discuss the format of the zone meetings and the district has hired Donald Golob, who helps organizations with facilitation, public participation and strategic planning, to help.

Trustees will consider all of the input on the plan at a June 26 board meeting.

Jamie Brennan, school board chairman, said trustees are open to feedback and suggestions.

“All of this is open for discussion as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “I haven’t made my mind up.”

The plan includes closing a net total of 10 school facilities, rebuilding four facilities, pursuing the addition of enrichment programs to a number of schools, relocating the learning alternative programs, adjusting the French immersion program and relocating administrative functions.

The most immediate actions include closing the South Wellington and North Oyster elementary schools and the junior learning alternatives site at Five Acres at the end of June.

Students from South Wellington and North Oyster would go to Woodbank Primary and North Cedar Intermediate schools next fall and then all Cedar-area elementary students would be moved to one larger elementary school at the Cedar Secondary site in 2015, with Cedar secondary students relocated to John Barsby Secondary School in 2014-15.

Junior learning alternatives students would be absorbed into catchment schools with one separate classroom maintained at Nanaimo District Secondary School.

Other consolidations include putting all Ladysmith students into one elementary and one secondary school, and closing Woodlands and Departure Bay Elementary.

For more information, please go to www.sd68.bc.ca.

reporter@nanaimobulletin.com