Nanaimo school board chairman clarifies comments on school’s enrolment

NANAIMO – Steve Rae refers to potential changes to Frank J. Ney and Rutherford elementary school catchment areas.

Steve Rae, Nanaimo school board chairman, is clarifying comments he made at the Rutherford Elementary school closure consultation on Oct. 8.

Rae referred to Frank J. Ney Elementary school as being 55-60 per cent full. Some parents questioned those figures as school district numbers said Frank Ney capacity was 108 per cent, based on numbers available at the time.

Rae clarified his comments, saying he was referring to possible changes in catchment area for Frank Ney and Rutherford elementary schools.

“Frank Ney is full currently, but the question was about the small catchment area, so the tough part is we could make that catchment area smaller, and that school would be 50 or 60 per cent full and fill Rutherford, but is that the right thing to do because Frank Ney is the newer facility?

“That’s what I was trying to articulate,” said Rae.

“I know it’s full now, but if we were to redraw the catchment area and make Rutherford’s catchment area larger, the population of that school would be significantly less. So where do we put the kids? Do we put them in the newer school or do we put them in the older facility? It’s a tough call,” he said.

As part of a school district facilities plan update proposal, Rutherford Elementary could be closed in 2017, with some of the student population transferred to Frank Ney Elementary School.

The News Bulletin could not reach Tina Bray, spokeswoman for the Rutherford Open and Thriving advocacy group, for comment.