Woodlands parents concerned about future of arts programs

NANAIMO – Nanaimo school district is holding working groups to prepare for school closures and consolidation.

Woodlands Secondary School parents are expressing concern about the school’s arts and pottery program as the school prepares to close its doors in June.

In December, Nanaimo school district board approved closure of Woodlands and the district is holding school consolidation work groups into late spring to garner information on the movement and transition of students, according to John Blain, school superintendent.

Woodlands’ parents are wondering where materials from the arts and pottery program, run by teacher Jean Kloppenburg, are going, said Mary Vassilopoulos, school parent advisory council secretary.

Vassilopoulos is taking part in the work group and said Woodlands had the room to accommodate the program, allowing it to be more extensive than at other schools.

“Other schools do have a pottery program as well, it’s just that we have such a great amount of space that it’s just expanded a little differently,” said Vassilopoulos. “We had that Sparks (mural) project displayed in front of our school that was as a result of that program.”

Vassilopoulos said Woodlands also has woodworking and metalworks labs as well and concerns are being expressed about where all the materials will go. She estimates that Nanaimo District and Wellington secondary schools – where displaced students will attend – will have first choice on supplies.

Blain said there haven’t been any decisions made about the program.

“We don’t talk about staffing at these meetings, but [it’s] a connection for us to listen to them there and it may push us to a decision around some staffing that we can have a conversation with the union or something to ensure things happen,” said Blain.

The Woodlands group meets until March 7, unless it is determined more sessions are needed. Vassilopoulos said she finds it is fruitful.

“I really like all the people that are there in a sense that there are so many groups represented, it’s quite fantastic,” said Vassilopoulos. “They are open to suggestions and answer questions that our parents have brought up and filtered through us. It’s a great working group.”

A working group is being held for the Learn at Home programs, which will be combined at Mount Benson School. There are also sessions for Woodbank Primary and North Cedar Intermediate school consolidation, the Skills for Life program, which is moving to Georgia Avenue school, and for parents in Cedar, as the high school will re-open.

All the changes happen this fall.