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Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools shifts focus to schools in Ladysmith area

School District 68 asking for feedback this month about schools in Ladysmith and North Oyster
Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools seeks input related to Ladysmith Intermediate School, as part of the public consultation process in the long-range facilities plan. The school was built in 1955. (Duck Paterson photo)

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, after recently making decisions around north-end elementaries, is turning its attention to facilities in the south end of the school district.

With École North Oyster and Ladysmith Primary School over capacity and Ladysmith Intermediate School in need of upgrades, according to a staff report, SD68 will ask people’s opinions on a new Ladysmith Intermediate.

The report noted that Ladysmith Intermediate for pupils in Grades 4-7 “is one of the district’s highest seismic priority schools” and could be on its way to exceeding student capacity.

The school district is holding public consultation until Aug. 31 for three scenarios as part of its long-range facilities plan, said Mark Walsh, secretary-treasurer, at the most recent business committee meeting.

The first option proposes building a new Ladysmith Intermediate for English-speaking and French-immersion students from kindergarten-Grade 7. École North Oyster would no longer be French immersion and Ladysmith Primary would expand to accommodate Grades K-7. In this scenario, described by the report as “the most complex,” the new school would house 450 students and have a $33-million price tag. Included would be a four-classroom expansion at Ladysmith Primary, noted the report, with an estimated cost of $9 million.

The report noted a majority of the money would come from the B.C. government, but the district would provide funding as well and Walsh stated the option could require the district to sell the school site to help pay for the new build.

The second option proposes replacing Ladysmith Intermediate with a 350-student K-7 school, expanding Ladysmith Primary so it is a K-7 school, also with enrolment of 350, with consideration to expand North Oyster. The new school would cost an estimated $26 million and work at Ladysmith Primary is estimated at $9 million. Similar to the first option, this could see the district selling land.

The final option proposes earthquake mitigation upgrades or a new build at Ladysmith Intermediate’s current French Street site and expanding both Ladysmith Primary and École North Oyster. Ladysmith Intermediate work would be estimated at $26 million, while work at Ladysmith Primary and École North Oyster would be $9 million and $18 million respectively.

Walsh said each of the scenarios would come with opportunities to work with stakeholders.

“The intangibles of, really, all three options is hopefully the opportunity to partner with either the Town of Ladysmith or perhaps Stz’uminus or both, at building a neighbourhood learning centre at whatever facility that we actually [decide on],” Walsh said. “We are trying hard to make sure that whatever we do means a new Ladysmith Intermediate, refurbishing that school, given all the systems are old and the accessibility is just unacceptable, that’s what we’re aiming for.”

District staff is expected to present recommendations to the board, as well as next steps, in the fall.

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RELATED: SD68 projects it will be 26% overcapacity in the next 10 years

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

After interning at Vancouver Metro free daily newspaper, I joined Black Press in 2010.
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