Learning alternatives to use Harewood site

Nanaimo school district's learning alternatives program has a new home for its physical activity courses.

Nanaimo school district’s learning alternatives program has a new home for its physical activity courses.

The program will use the gymnasium at the old Harewood Elementary School site next year, giving students in both junior and senior learning alternatives, as well as the Learn@Home program, a place to go to meet physical activity requirements.

“This will help us provide a graduation program,” said learning alternatives principal Scott Saywell. “It’s great news we have a space we can call our own.”

Students travel to gyms and recreation centres all over the district to meet the physical activity component of the B.C. high school graduation program, he said, including the Harewood gym for a couple of programs.

The district put the property on the rental market earlier this year, but so far no one has stepped up with any concrete offers to lease the place, said Pete Sabo, the district’s director of planning and operations.

Saywell said the request to use the space was a bit late because learning alternatives staff thought there might be a chance the whole learning alternatives program would move to the old Dufferin Crescent site next fall.

Last spring, trustees asked staff to iron out the details of moving the whole program to Dufferin next fall, but then the old site was put into the new facilities plan as a potential alternative location to Woodlands for a new secondary school.

Sabo said having learning alternatives use the Harewood facility will save the district money, because it won’t have to pay the transit and rental fees for students to go elsewhere.

Some of the savings will go toward maintaining the gym, but because the facility will now be maintained for a daytime program, it will be in good shape to rent out on evenings, weekends and in the summer.

“We do have demands for gym space and there is a little stage in that gym,” he said.

Built in 1959, the facility was most recently leased to a church group. Sabo said the building is in good shape and won’t need much work beyond refinishing the floor.