EDITORIAL: Floor is open on school plan

NANAIMO – If anyone is hoping for a say on how education services will be delivered in Nanaimo school district, now’s the chance.

If anyone is hoping for a say on how education services will be delivered in Nanaimo school district in the future, now’s the chance.

The new 10-year facilities plan the district is developing will have a big impact, and people need to let trustees know what they think.

Tonight (April 11) a consultant presents recommendations on what should be included in the plan and board chairman Jamie Brennan promises proposals will be comprehensive and affect many areas of the district.

With consistent budget shortfalls resulting in cuts to programs and services in recent years – this school year being an exception – and no indication the province will give districts more money, district officials have to make some tough decisions.

Decisions like school closures and major changes to the way some programs are run are almost certainly on the table for discussion.

Behind development of the facilities plan is a year’s worth of work by district staff. Following a comprehensive public consultation process last spring, staff developed a strategic plan for the district that consists of three goals – meet each student’s needs; continual improvement of instruction and assessment; and enhanced facilities for learning, the last of which requires a facilities plan that takes into account specific optimal school sizes.

The strategic plan prompted little public response when it was approved by trustees in December – no surprise since it mainly consisted of broad goals and little specifics. Not to mention parents rarely speak out until a decision has some personal effect.

But tonight’s report will likely put forth recommendations that target specific programs or schools. Parents, students and community members have a chance to get informed at the meeting and let trustees know their thoughts.