Nanaimo school district sets schedule for public consultation

NANAIMO - The timetable has been set for public consultation related to potential closures in the Nanaimo school district.

The timetable has been set for public consultation related to potential closures in the Nanaimo school district.

The school board approved revisions in principle for its updated facilities plan on Sept. 2 and Rutherford Elementary, North Cedar Intermediate, Woodbank Primary and Woodlands Secondary schools were recommended by staff as ones that could be shuttered.

As part of the plan, a new wing is recommended for Frank J. Ney Elementary to accommodate some of Rutherford’s students.

Consultation for North Cedar and Woodbank will be held on Oct. 6, site to be determined. Rutherford will see consultation on Oct. 8 and Frank J. Ney will see consultation Oct. 13 for its parents and those from Randerson Ridge and McGirr elementary schools as they too could see more students if Rutherford closes.

Woodlands will have consultation Oct. 20 and a session will be held at Nanaimo District Secondary School on Oct. 27 related to district programs, such as Learn-at-Home, as they will be reviewed as part of the process.

Steve Rae, school board chairman, said the district is facing a $2.7-million structural deficit and has empty seats.

Rae said dealing with school closures are difficult, but it is a chance for people to give their opinion. He is seeking honest feedback.

“The challenge for parents is different than our challenge … their focus is to look out for what’s best for their family, which I totally understand and respect,” said Rae. “Our focus is to look out for what’s best for the district, so combining those two things together I think will be our biggest challenge, but that is our goal.”

Julie Leduc, who has children at Woodbank and North Cedar and plans on attending consultation, said she is in favour of closing one of the schools.

“When the previous school board suggested closing two out of our three local schools, I did not agree with that plan, however, everyone is aware of our district’s financial issues and closures do need to take place,” Leduc said in an e-mail.

School trustees are expected to receive a report from district staff on Nov. 24 with recommendations and school consolidation motions are scheduled to be made Dec. 9 at a special board meeting.