School board reaches out to Ladysmith

Trustees want to meet with Ladysmith council regularly to discuss mutual issues

Steve Rae is well-aware of the perception in Ladysmith that it is the red-headed stepchild of School District 68.

That is why the new school board chairman is poised to reach out to Ladysmith council in the hopes of creating a formal agreement that ensures the two bodies are meeting on a regular, scheduled basis in order to work together on mutual issues.

Rae said the idea came about during an informal discussion he and another trustee recently had with Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone.

“I live in Cedar myself and I’ve known Aaron for a long time,” Rae said. “We want to make better relationships. That’s all this is about.”

The meetings would be used for each body to gather perspective from the other on things like public feedback, land use and how they can find mutual efficiencies by working together.

Plans for the high school moving forward and creating a new elementary school for Ladysmith — something Rae called a priority — were two examples of things that could be up for discussion.

The school board supported Rae’s proposal and a letter formally requesting it should be headed to Ladysmith soon, for council’s consideration.

“I don’t anticipate any pushback,” he said.

The previous school board came under fire in Ladysmith for a number of recent decisions, including closing Davis Road Elementary School and move its french immersion program to North Oyster, moving Grade 7 students to the high school, and not providing transportation for the Cedar kids who transferred to Ladysmith after Cedar Secondary School was closed.

Ladysmith councillor Rob Hutchins was also elected to the Cowichan Valley school board in November. Part of his platform was exploring the possibility of Ladysmith leaving Nanaimo to join Cowichan.

Hutchins said the Cowichan school board had not yet formally addressed the issue and he was happy to see Nanaimo reaching out the way it has.

“I’m glad the (Nanaimo) school trustees are taking the initiative,” he said.

Rae said he was unaware of the Ladysmith to Cowichan discussion.