Parents ask trustees to put Cedar re-opening on hold

NANAIMO – A coalition of secondary school parents asked Cedar be considered as part of a district-wide plan.

A coalition of parents is asking the Nanaimo school board to put its decision to re-open Cedar Community Secondary School in context of the entire 10-year facilities plan.

The Coalition of Nanaimo-Ladysmith Secondary School Parent Advisory Councils, comprised of a majority of district high school parent councils, made the request to trustees at the June 3 education committee meeting.

The school district is reviewing the facilities plan. Earlier in the year, the board reversed part of the plan that saw the closure of the Cedar school and its conversion to an elementary school.

“We ask that you hold in abeyance the decision to re-open Cedar secondary until the first draft of the long-term facilities plan is complete,” said Ed Chan, coalition spokesman and outgoing president of John Barsby’s parent council.

“Once the board situates Cedar school within a draft long-term facilities plan, our coalition would welcome re-opening Cedar school in whatever form … as long as the board is able to show it makes educational sense, it makes fiscal sense and it makes community sense,” he said.

The coalition is also asking the district to bring in an independent advisor to help the board with the remainder of the review, in order to provide a “fresh set of eyes,” and is seeking to engage with the board in good faith to influence the facilities plan.

It also asks the district to close and consolidate schools where it makes fiscal and strategic sense.

Steve Rae, school board chairman, said he respected the coalition’s passion for public education, but said plans to re-open Cedar will still go ahead.

“We’re moving forward with the facilities plan coming out. We’re not changing Cedar, we’re not going back and getting a special advisor and we have great, qualified staff that are putting together a facilities plan,” said Rae.

“We have a lot of talented people that know our district well,” he added.

The coalition has the support of the Nanaimo school district parent advisory council, but is not associated with it, according to Chan.

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