School district expecting new facilities plan

NANAIMO – School district braces for a new facilities plan and its implications.

The Nanaimo school district is bracing for a new facilities plan and its implications.

At its meeting Wednesday, the school board set out to clear the table for a new plan by beginning to repeal a bylaw governing the process for changing the facilities plan.

Trustee Donna Allen voted against the motion, keeping it from being repealed until a special board meeting tomorrow (April 3).

“While [the bylaw] seems to be well-intentioned, it’s passed, and the past is done,” said Jamie Brennan, board chairman.

The bylaw demands in camera meetings on proposed changes, a 30-day public consultation process and a 60-day decision-making period.

“It hamstrung the board, because in theory, any minor or insignificant change that could be deemed to be taking place in a board plan would require this process,” said trustee Dot Neary. “Which, incidentally … is probably the least transparent process that you could imagine.”

Secretary-treasurer Phil Turin recommended the bylaw be repealed because it is outdated, referencing a committee that doesn’t exist.

“The fact that there’s no longer a facilities committee is a miniscule reason to dispose of this plan at this point in time and leave everything barren as we go forward,” said Allen, via conference call.

She said the bylaw kept the public interest at the forefront.

“We have spent a great deal of time in the last year and a half working openly and transparently to create a new facilities plan,” she said. “But if we get rid of this bylaw right now we have nothing. We don’t know what our new facilities plan will be, we don’t know where we’re at, but we will be in limbo with no bylaw in place for the public interest if we take this away now.”

She suggested the bylaw be referred to the superintendent, who could change its wording.

“To refer it would simply be to pass on something that’s significantly flawed,” Brennan said.

A new facilities plan will be presented to the board for consideration on April 11.