New NDSS tops board’s priorities

NANAIMO – A new Nanaimo District Secondary School and Harewood school demolition are priorities in school district's five-year capital plan.

A new Nanaimo District Secondary School, a larger Hammond Bay Elementary gym and Harewood school demolition are the top three priorities in Nanaimo school district’s current five-year capital plan.

B.C.’s Ministry of Education requires school boards to submit five-year plans annually, providing information on priority projects. Trustees approved the 2015-16 plan at a meeting Nov. 4, with potential projects totalling $122 million.

According to Pete Sabo, school district director of planning and operations, money hasn’t been allocated, rather the district has requested project funding from the ministry in specific years for those amounts.

The district requested $66.5 million for a new school on the Nanaimo District Secondary site in 2017-18, with capacity increasing to 1,800.

Sabo said the request doesn’t mean construction for a new high school will occur in 2018.

“A number of studies, discussions and determinations will be required to determine if and when the ministry may consider approving a project at NDSS,” Sabo said in an e-mail.

Demolition of the old Harewood Elementary School, ranked third in priority, was requested in 2015-16 in the amount of $589,000. A timeline would be established if ministry approval is given, according to Sabo. The school was shuttered in 2004. Sabo said it is past its useful life and requires demolition in the near future.

“It has now been closed for over 10 years and the district has determined there would be no future use in its current condition,” said Sabo. “Roof leaks have further deteriorated its condition. It is becoming a candidate for removal.”

During budget consultation in March, parents expressed concerns about Hammond Bay Elementary’s half-sized gym, saying its maximum capacity is 312, less than the school’s enrolment.

The gym project was prioritized No. 2, with a request for $853,551 in 2017-18.

Sabo said the plan is subject to change.