Nanaimo school district begins planning for long term

NANAIMO – Nanaimo school seeking community input on items like sharing of facilities.

Nanaimo school district is seeking input as it prepares for its next multi-year budget plan.

Similar to the two-year Becoming Sustainable plan introduced in 2015, the district is preparing for 2020 Vision, a plan taking it to the year 2020. Dale Burgos, district spokesman, said the plan will deal with budget and facilities and asset management for central and south area schools.

The district is very early in the process and seeks feedback from the community, including the possibility of sharing facilities. Burgos said preliminary discussions have taken place with partners such as Vancouver Island University and the City of Nanaimo.

“Let’s just say the city’s looking for a new place for a community centre, maybe there’s an option for that, maybe we [team up] because like the board has said very early on, there is no money from the ministry (of education) coming for new schools, or school builds,” said Burgos.

The district has hired Mike McKay, a consultant, to facilitate. McKay has experience as a former Surrey school district superintendent and trustee appointed by the ministry after Cowichan school board was fired for failing to pass a balanced budget in 2012.

“He’s very good with looking at the big picture and he’s used a few examples and there’s one example out in, I believe it’s Regina. It’s a school, but also is a public library, who has also got some offices for the municipality. Those are unique ways and maybe that’s an idea out here in Nanaimo,” said Burgos.

Steve Rae, board chairman, couldn’t say if there would ultimately be any school closures, but discussion isn’t about closing schools.

“It’s about taking the properties that we have and the schools that we have and finding newer ways to use them and working with our partners, the city, to work on new and different [endeavours]. It’s actually quite exciting. The new curriculum is in place and we want to be able to do the best we can to deliver the best product we can,” said Rae.

A 2020 Vision forum for the Nanaimo area will be held at Wellington Secondary School, located at 3135 Mexicana Rd., Monday (Nov. 28) from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

The News Bulletin reached out to McKay for comment, but he has not responded.