Nanaimo should look toward Cowichan when it comes to school matters

The assertion Nanaimo-Ladysmith's school district is doing something wrong while Cowichan is doing something right is probably correct.

It has been interesting to follow the politics of education in our neighbouring school district to the north in Nanaimo.

There, like here, a cash-strapped district has been wrestling with issues caused by short-term decision-making and plummeting enrollment.

There, like here, the board of education has decided to address the issues with a massive restructuring plan revolving around multiple school closures.

But according to at least one speaker at a recent school closure meeting in Ladysmith, that is where the similarities end. She pointed to rallies outside the Nanaimo school board office and threats of lawsuits that continue six months after their restructure was announced. And she compared that to Cowichan, where people are not necessarily happy with our restructure, but seem to have been able to move on with the business of educating our kids.

And she said that has to show Nanaimo was doing something  wrong, while Cowichan was doing something right. And she’s probably correct.

People here get that school populations are dwindling. They are aware school programs have already been squeezed dry. They know the provincial government is not prepared to loosen the purse strings. And they can understand how, in this environment, it doesn’t make sense to continue operating several schools at levels dramatically below capacity.

But they want to be active participants in finding solutions. And the process set out by Cowichan trustee Mike McKay and district staff seems to have allowed them to do that.

Now if only the province would start injecting some new money into the system, maybe we could finally start moving forward again.

—Cowichan News Leader Pictorial