A Nanaimo mother is worried school trustees won’t hear from her daughter anytime soon, despite the fact that the board recently expressed an interest in having more student presenters at committee meetings.
Tiffany Nelson contacted the school district on Feb. 28 requesting that her daughter, a Grade 6 student at South Wellington Elementary School, be permitted to present a short speech about her experiences attending a small school at the March education committee meeting.
The topic of small schools has come up in Nelson’s household because the district recently approved a strategic plan that includes development of a 10-year facilities plan by April, taking into account optimal school sizes of between 200 and 400 students at the elementary level.
South Wellington has a student population of 64.
Nelson was told the meeting was March 6 – it is usually the second week of the month – due to spring break and she thought she’d missed the chance to get her daughter on the agenda. People wanting to make a presentation are supposed to contact the district at least nine days before a meeting.
But then she was told that the agenda had not yet been sent out.
After Nelson was asked what her daughter’s presentation was about, she said she was then told it was too late to add any items to the agenda and asked to send an outline of the presentation so that it could be added in April or May.
“It seemed to be the content that was objected to, not the time,” she said. “I’m not sure how that sort of administrative approach aligns with their public request for feedback.”
Nelson was left wondering why the board put out the request for more feedback from students, yet input on current issues before the board was put on the back burner.
“My concern is that it may not be considered while it remains significant,” she said.
Donna Reimer, school board chairwoman, said the request came too late to include in the March agenda – the agenda is set several days before it is sent out – and due to the number of budget meetings happening next month, the April education committee meeting has now been cancelled.
“Once our enhanced facilities draft plan is presented to the board, there will be a whole variety of opportunities for consultation and input,” she said.