School community says closure talk is affecting Woodlands Secondary’s enrolment

NANAIMO – Woodlands is one of the schools under consideration for closure in 2016.

Woodlands Secondary community members say the school’s history of being on the chopping block is having an affect on enrolment.

The high school has been considered for both closure and rebuild by various Nanaimo school district boards in the past, and under a current proposal, could be closed in June 2016.

The school district said Woodlands has a projected student count of 514 in 2015, with functional capacity of 700. If closed, students would be distributed to Nanaimo District and Wellington secondary schools, leading to enhanced programming and greater support for students, according to the school district.

Stakeholders attended a closure consultation meeting Tuesday night.

Joshua Holloway, a Grade 12 student at Woodlands, said school’s status has been a roller-coaster ride throughout his high school years. When he entered Grade 8, it was thought a new school would be built.

“Year by year, I started to realize this could possibly, actually, happen and this year when they said there’s a strong potential that Woodlands could close this year, while I was sad, there was also a sense of, we kind of saw this one coming,” he said.

Chris Sholberg, who has a child enrolled in Grade 8, said the long-standing threat of closure is a legitimate concern.

“There’s no way to quantify it necessarily or statistically or anything, but it’s sort of the perception,” said Sholberg. “We just know other families that were in the area that chose to go elsewhere just because they figured the school was going to be closing.”

Steve Rae, board chairman, said the threat of closure’s effect on enrolment is a fair observation. He empathizes with parents, but the board must deal with the facts.

“I know I will consider it, but we have to base things on the facts of where we are today. That is speculation, it is a fair speculation … but I know that all trustees will go through whatever they need to go through on each of the schools we’re discussing to come to an educated decision on what we do with that school and others in the district,” Rae said.