The old Woodlands Secondary School site. Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is ready to create a new 10-year facilities plan. FILE PHOTO

Nanaimo school district to craft new facilities plan

Options to be considered include consolidations, renovations, additions or new schools

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is ready to write a new facilities plan.

The school district will start to craft a new 10-year facilities plan this year and will consider what to do with properties like the now-shuttered Woodlands Secondary, a staff report shows.

A 10-year Enhanced Facilities for Learning Plan was created in 2013 and updated the following two years. The latest version was part of a push to become sustainable, which also included a budget that approved school closures and consolidations to cut costs.

RELATED: Plan advises closure of four Nanaimo schools

RELATED: School district to look at options for former Woodlands Secondary site

t’s the decisions in the Becoming Sustainable plan and a jump in enrolment that’s put the board in a “healthy” financial position, according to the staff report, which says enrolment is projected to grow and it’s time to embark on a new facilities plan to figure out “what other properties can be sold or secured for future use and if the school district needs include any further consolidations, renovations, additions or new schools.”

“We’re really facing a new landscape in NLPS. As a result of the restored teacher language we have space requirements that we haven’t seen in a number of years, we have inclining enrolment happening at the same time and we’ve really achieved some financial health through [a] sustainable budget process over the last number of years,” said Carrie McVeigh, district secretary-treasurer, during a board presentation last week, adding that given the change, staff suggests a new 10-year facilities plan and to start work this summer and fall.

Superintendent John Blain estimates consultation will take eight to 10 months.

Trustee Stephanie Higginson spoke about developing a plan co-operatively with the community and starting to think about how to use empty buildings for community use.

“We seem to be in this routine of putting a plan out first and there’s a different way of doing community engagement and one of them is to co-develop a plan with the community,” she said.

Scott Kimler, acting chairman, said when a possible disposition of a property is raised, alarm bells go off in the eyes of the public.

“They see possible disposal and then they think immediately that oh, we’re going to sell the bloody thing,” he said. “I think it’s really incumbent on us to make sure that our communication is very clear that we’re only investigating. Nothing is decided.”

The board gave staff approval last week to do the new facilities plan, which includes exploring the potential to dispose of Woodlands Secondary and the district’s Selby Street site outlined in an asset management document approved earlier this year. The district will also continue to explore and plan for Ladysmith, Dufferin Crescent, its Harewood property and revitalization of NDSS.

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