Previous school plan’s problem was choice of Woodlands site

Re: Previous facility plan had considerable merit, Guest Comment, Nov. 3.

To the Editor,

Re: Previous facility plan had considerable merit, Guest Comment, Nov. 3.

$87 million dollars – good for the district. New, fully-utilized schools – cheaper to run and better for students than old, underutilized schools.

Who could disagree?

Well no one did then and no one does now.

However, none of this goes to explain why Woodlands, rather than NDSS, should have been chosen as the site for the new school, and it was that decision which was the crux of the issue.

It wasn’t the fundamentals of the plan that were flawed, it was the choice of Woodlands over NDSS, in the defiance of all the evidence that NDSS was the superior site in every way, and the twisting of evidence and withholding of facts in service of that agenda.

Here’s just one example:

Why will no supporter of the old plan (Phipps included since he was part of that management team he is now defending) step up and explain how it was responsible planning to include the revenue for selling the whole NDSS site, but not address the cost of replacing the essential facilities that are located there (District Administration Centre, maintenance and bus yard) or else address the impact of lower revenue if a smaller part of the site were sold?

Why was the simple question “Did you mean the whole 1.4 hectare site when you put that revenue figure in the business case?” so contentious that it required legal advice, discussion in a closed board meeting and four months of the school district ignoring polite requests for a response?

This was about the straightforward clarification of pretty simple facts contained in a public document. Getting a straight answer to a straight question on a civic matter should not feel like international espionage.

Would the ministry still have approved the plan, even if they had been aware of this detail?

Probably. Their only concern is compliance with ministry policies, and even then it seems they are willing to bend (e.g. it didn’t seem to bother the ministry that Woodlands is below their own site size standard for a school of the size proposed).

It would be the local district, not the ministry that would have to cope with the unaccounted for extra cost for relocating the administration centre, bus and maintenance yards, or finding extra capital money when the sale revenue the plan depended on was lowered to keep those facilities in place.

Phipps also implies Nanaimo was denied funding recently by the government because of the current board’s performance.

In actuality, it’s perfectly clear that unless your school district experienced a dramatic increase in enrolment, no one would have received any money from this government.

The problem with the previous plan was never with its general outline. It would not have raised the opposition it did if it looked as good close up as it did from afar.

Barb Humpherville, Nanaimo