Rumours of Cedar Secondary’s demise were greatly exaggerated.
Nanaimo school district trustees voted last week to recommend the re-opening of the high school in 2016.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise, as that course of action was central to the election platform of several trustees. By re-opening Cedar Secondary, they are, in a way, keeping an election promise. At the same time, they have put themselves in position to break another election promise – the promise to do what’s best for students across the school district. With the school district projecting multimillion-dollar budget shortfalls every year, an extra school on the books spreads resources more thinly. The secretary-treasurer will crunch the numbers and create a workable budget, but it’s not going to be pretty.
The school board chairman suggested that recent community consultation justifies the trustees’ decision. The process, however, was of questionable value so soon after the election – trustees received a mandate then. The stack of surveys is mostly a mishmash of wildly varied viewpoints. Parents wrote about their kids, or their educational philosophy, or the good ol’ days, or they simply bashed the government. Parents who filled out the surveys didn’t have to make the math work – that’s up to the school board and district staff. And trustees made it a whole lot tougher, now, with an extra school and no further funding.
It should be noted that this past weekend, almost all the trustees attended a rally calling for greater funding of public education, and some had stern words for the provincial government. They have to ask for more money because that’s their best hope, now, of balancing the budget in the coming years.
It’s great news for Cedar that a high school is returning to that neighbourhood. It’s a fine school. It’s a community asset. It’s a lot of things, but in Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district, it’s not a solution, and we need solutions.