Do we have a better plan for our schools?

Brian Thom raises concerns about the proposal to remove English-stream students from École Davis Road and ultimately close EDR.

Editor:

The message of tonight’s budget information meeting by SD68 staff was clear. The District will shrink École Davis Road (EDR) to 135 students in 2013-14, a transition measure to closing it permanently in 2014-15, as recommended in the new 10-Year Facility Plan Proposal (the “Player Report”). Within two years, south-end parents — English and French alike — will lose this hub of the community in favour of two super-schools K-5 and 6-12 at the LPS/LSS site.

The key argument of the District is that a super-school approach located at LPS/LSS will attract more funding at lower operating costs, creating more educational opportunities for the kids.

Recognize that the apparent $100,000 savings from splitting EDR (saved by reducing one teacher and related staff when 100 kids leave the school) is not real money saved, as there are costs to increase the number of students at LPS by 100 (portables, etc.) and losses incurred when some students leave the district. The real work done by this budget plan is to implement the transition to a Ladysmith super-school model immediately -— in this and the next budget year.

Do we have a better plan? Two K-7 schools (re-built EDR/LPS) with re-purposed excess space in the high-school, for instance?

Or perhaps look elsewhere for cuts and not divide our community? Recognize that the EDR PAC has calculated that there are deeper cost savings the board could have ($800,000 immediately) by reducing excess capacity in the north end of Nanaimo (ie: closing Bayview Elementary, for instance; it has 151 kids and there are 241 excess spaces in neighbouring schools).

Closing schools in Nanaimo is politically harder for the board; it’s easier for them to implement tough decisions on our smaller area (less voters, less negative media coverage, etc.).

Once a community is divided (ie: English/French) it is easier for the board to implement political decisions. Recall the little French immersion girl who this week was accused by English-track students of being one of the “French who was kicking the English kids out of their own school.”

Where does a permanent EDR school closure fit into the Town of Ladysmith’s Official Community Plan and Area Plans? We will need advocates and allies like town council to speak up about their vision of our community if we are to avoid having EDR shut down permanently.

If you live in the south end of Ladysmith, what will your property values be when EDR closes permanently? $10,000 reduced? $20,000? Everyone concerned about this issue should make sure their voice is heard.

Participate in the school board process so they know what our vision is for our community. Facilitating easier political decisions in Nanaimo should not come at the expense of our community in Ladysmith.

Brian Thom

Ladysmith

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