Update: Nanaimo school district anticipates Rutherford Elementary closure in June 2018

NANAIMO – Ministry of Education announces $1.3 million in funding for Frank J. Ney Elementary School expansion.

With provincial money promised for construction of an expansion at Frank J. Ney Elementary School, Nanaimo school district is anticipating closing Rutherford Elementary in late June 2018.

The school board approved school closure in December 2015 contingent on funding from the Ministry of Education. On Tuesday, the district was notified it received $1.3 million from the province.

In a press release, the district said it had compared costs of upgrading Rutherford and expanding Frank Ney and “findings indicate considerable long-term savings” from the latter. A report from James Bush and Associates Ltd. estimated expansion at $5.7 million, while a report from KMBR Architects and Planners estimated work on Rutherford is estimated at more than $18.5 million.

In an e-mail, John Blain, school superintendent, said the district’s contribution could come from local capital, annual facilities grant money, contingency and surplus, but details will be finalized when final costs are received.

Kathy Schneider, Rutherford parent advisory council president, said the announcement wasn’t surprising. She was hoping to send her daughter to Rutherford next year, but this changes her plans. In addition to Ney elementary, displaced students will be relocated to McGirr and Randerson Ridge elementary schools.

“It puts us in a bit of a predicament because we’re scheduled to be sent to Randerson,” said Schneider. “Do we put our daughter in for one year only to be uprooted? Because we have been told that kids won’t be moved for another year.”

Schneider said the council doesn’t know what avenues to explore in relation to trying to fight the decision.

Steve Rae, school board chairman, said he understands the community’s disappointment, but believes this is a better position for the children.

“They’re going to go into a newer, safer building in their own community and I know some parents are extremely upset and frustrated and we understand that, but we believe this is better for the district and we’re going to be moving forward,” Rae said.

The school district said it has no plans to sell the Rutherford school site.