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Sport academy argues against potential relocation from NDSS to Barsby

Parents of lacrosse players speak up as SD68 deals with overcrowding at largest high school
Nanaimo District Secondary School. (News Bulletin file)

Parents of Nanaimo District Secondary School lacrosse players are against a move to John Barsby Secondary School as a way to reduce student numbers.

NDSS is over capacity by 100 students and with four sports academies – hockey, soccer, volleyball and lacrosse – situated on site, relocation to nearby Barsby is one potential solution that the school district is considering.

Much like their counterparts from Gabriola Island and other sports academies, Lindsay Gunderson and Kirsten White are against displacing students.

“We firmly believe that ND academy students … should not pay the ultimate price for questionable temporary gain that is not a long-term solution to addressing the capacity issues,” White said at Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ Feb. 22 board meeting. “The viable solution are solutions that should not rely on any option that compromises or limits a student’s chosen learning pathway, their post-secondary goals or is detrimental to their health and well-being.”

Contrary to a staff report that stated no costs would be incurred with relocation, parents point out that team gear would have to be rebranded, such as uniforms, helmets, bags and gloves.

“We also require storage sheds near the fields, and lacrosse nets,” Gunderson told trustees. “NDSS is already equipped with two sheds and the required nets. [It’s] also located beside the running track. Our athletes use the track and stairs of the bleachers for training and conditioning.”

A move to Barsby would prolong the commute for some students, who are out-of-catchment and take the bus from north Nanaimo.

Since the academy’s 2015 inception, 30 NDSS alumni have earned university scholarships and Gunderson and White said NDSS lacrosse is known by U.S. post-secondary institutions. Gunderson said a local lacrosse administrator has suggested that changing the academy’s location and name could impact students’ opportunities.

Parents requested a meeting with trustees, something the school district said will take place.

“There are currently 44 athletes in the academy, 16 of which already reside in catchment … we anticipate many students will decide to remain in their current school environment, making [the option] futile as a solution to freeing up any tangible space,” said White. “It would lack foresight to pursue [this] any further without proper consultation with academy families to ascertain whether or not these students would, in fact, choose to switch schools.”

White said academy parents would favour different options to address overcrowding at NDSS, such as adding portables at NDSS or building expansions at NDSS and Wellington Secondary.

Public consultation concluded Feb. 28 and a staff report is anticipated to go before trustees this month.

RELATED: Gabriola parents vehemently against catchment switch to Cedar

RELATED: SD68 trustees ponder options to address NDSS capacity issues

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

After interning at Vancouver Metro free daily newspaper, I joined Black Press in 2010.
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