Charlene McKay, current Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools chairperson, seeks another four years on the board. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Charlene McKay, current Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools chairperson, seeks another four years on the board. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school board chairperson running for re-election

New or upgraded NDSS at the top of the to-do list for trustee Charlene McKay

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ board chairperson seeks another four years and if elected, will continue pushing for a new Nanaimo District Secondary School.

Charlene McKay said advocating to politicians will be key in replacing, or upgrading, 70-year-old NDSS, which she said is at the top of her list.

“We’re going to have to continue talking with our [members of the legislative assembly], they’re very well aware of what our concerns are and how we’re approaching that,” said McKay. “Our conversations have to continue with the Ministry of Education and in addition to that, we have to start reaching out directly to the B.C. treasury board, they need to know what our facilities look like, what our needs are, and be really direct in our ask.”

The district had secured money for a new NDSS in the past, but that plan fell apart. McKay doesn’t think that will have a bearing on the latest request.

“From my experience, in speaking with various ministry officials, the minister and our MLAs, they’re aware that this need has been in place since the early 2000s,” said McKay. “Regardless of what happened back in that time, when the shifts changed and then that money was then pulled back from the province … it’s time for them to address the concerns and the capacity issues that it’s creating.”

Enrolment issues will be one of the biggest challenges for the next board, she said. The district has seemingly rebounded from a period of declining enrolment and completed consultation to address north-end concerns last school year.

When asked about accomplishments she is most proud of, McKay pointed to graduation rates – 80.3 per cent of Indigenous students graduated in 2020-21 and 88.7 per cent of students overall – as well as Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh Community School, which the district co-governs with Snuneymuxw First Nation.

“Our graduation rates are the highest they’ve ever been,” said McKay. “They’ve literally never been higher, so for the last four years, the investments that we’ve made have turned into increased achievement for students and that’s great. But equally important is [Qwam Qwum school]. It’s super unique, it’s one-of-a-kind and it’s a result of good relationships.”

Anyone running for mayor or councillor in the City of Nanaimo or the District of Lantzville, regional director in the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Area A, B, C or E, or school trustee in School District 68 is asked to contact the Nanaimo News Bulletin to set up an interview or invite us to a campaign launch event. Phone Greg Sakaki at 250-734-4621 or e-mail

ELECTION 2022: Candidates in Nanaimo, Lantzville, RDN and SD68

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