Nanaimo school board sees seven new trustees elected to office

NANAIMO – Advocates for Save Cedar Schools coalition picked by voters for school board.

The Nanaimo school district board will see high turnover with seven new trustees elected to sit at the table for the next four years.

According to preliminary election results, Stephanie Higginson, Scott Kimler, Jeff Solomon, Steve Rae, Natasha Bob, Tania Brzovic and Noah Routley were voted in as trustees, joined by incumbents Jamie Brennan and Bill Robinson.

The last board approved a 10-year facilities plan, which included the closure of Cedar Community Secondary School, and while Higginson, Kimler and Rae are part of the Save Cedar Schools coalition, Higginson and Rae are not committing to reversing the closure.

Higginson, who received the most votes with 9,545, said the coalition has a strong argument that closure and conversion of the school is not in the best interests of the board, but wants to look at all the information.

“The whole thing I kept hearing through that whole [school closure] process was, ‘This is the best educational and economic decision for our board,’ but no one would back that up. So what I’m really looking forward to is being on the other side of the curtain and getting access to all the information and finding out why the decisions were made the way they were.

“If they truly are the best decisions for the district, then that’s the way things will stay,” said Higginson.

“But we also have to make these decisions with the communities that are being affected by them,” said Higginson.

Rae said he doesn’t want to cancel the plan but would like to suspend it. There are seven new trustees and the board needs to step back and do a thorough evaluation, he said.

“I will say this. If it is the right thing to do, to close that school, I’ll support it but they haven’t proven that to me or any of the other people that I’m aware,” Rae said.

“It would be irresponsible of me to say that I want to go in there and re-open that school because I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do. I know how I felt as [part of] Save Cedar Schools but that’s not my role now. My role is what’s best for the whole district,” he said.

Sharon Welch, Kim Howland, Nancy Curley, TerryLynn Saunders, Dot Neary and Bill Bard were not re-elected.

Results for the 2014 Nanaimo municipal election will become official tomorrow (Nov. 19).