Recently, my neighbour who has two small children, ages three and one, asked me about elementary school options here in Ladysmith. By the time I was finished, she was more confused than ever, and understandably, because the 10 school-aged children living on our street, who would all be happily attending École Davis Road Elementary had it not been closed, are now attending four different elementary schools.
Some students, including my daughters, are walking to their former school, École Davis Road, to catch a bus 11 kilometres down the highway to attend École North Oyster Elementary. Other families have chosen Chemainus Elementary and St. Joseph’s, both in Chemainus, citing that the support available at these schools is much better than in School District 68. And one family has chosen to have their daughter attend Ladysmith Primary, which is now the only primary school choice in Ladysmith and has consequently overflowed and become a “portable city.”
Additionally, for south side elementary students to attend Ladysmith Primary and Intermediate schools (which are both old facilities in need of updates/replacement), it’s proving to be difficult since there is no bus service available to bring them to these schools on the other side of town.
It makes me wonder, why would any families with school-aged children consider moving to the south side of Ladysmith?
The current school board has made some very poor decisions, closing not empty but full, popular schools in the south end of the school district, while many schools in Nanaimo have significant excess capacity.
In Cedar, the school board has closed the successful, full-to-capacity Cedar Secondary School and now are spending an enormous amount of funds to convert it into an unnecessary elementary school.
Here in Ladysmith, the school board’s “Enhanced Facilities Plan” tore our town apart, pitted schools against each other with threats of closures, and resulted in no “enhanced” elementary facilities in Ladysmith, just less. And so much for the Town of Ladysmith’s sustainability vision — approximately half of Ladysmith’s elementary-aged children are being transported to schools outside of town by bus or car.
If we had decent schools here, then perhaps we could bring Ladysmith children back to town.
The school board says there is no money, but it would help if they managed what they had more efficiently, by eliminating some of the top-heavy management, and by not wasting money on ill-conceived schemes, such as moving the Grade 7s into the high school (LSS) where they spent precious funds updating facilities for them, when their actions resulted in five empty classrooms at the Intermediate school.
It’s time for Ladysmith to get some new elementary schools. And to do that, we need a new school board. Even if you don’t have children or grandchildren in Ladysmith, we all pay school taxes and currently, we’re not getting much “bang for our buck.” The school situation in Ladysmith is a mess.
Please, everyone, get out and vote for NEW school board trustees on Nov. 15. And, remember, you only need to vote for those you want to see on the board, not for all nine positions. It’s time for a change in School District 68, a change to a board of trustees that supports Ladysmith — our children deserve it!