Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools announced it will take the proposed Nanaimo District Secondary School capacity scenario of sending Gabriola students entering Grade 8 in September to Cedar Secondary out of consideration saying there is a clear lack of support from affected families for the move.

“Clearly from the consultation, the community, generally, are not in support of that recommendation,” NLPS’s Secretary Treasurer, Mark Walsh, said at the March 8 business committee meeting during which trustees received a one-page update on the NDSS capacity consultation process.

“As there will be no specific changes to programming or catchments prior to September 2023, the board is not required to make an immediate decision” about how to address NDSS’s overcapacity student population, the update said. In late January, when the consultation was announced, staff had said if the board wanted to make changes for the start of the next school year, trustees would need to make those decisions prior to spring break.

The district has not said it has eliminated from consideration sending Gabriola students to Cedar Secondary, only that it would not happen this September. Given the opposition from the Gabriola community, which has included over 1,000 signatures on a petition against the move, Walsh told the business committee “there’s going to be no recommendation that, even if it was to proceed, that it would proceed in September 2023.”

The final “what we heard” consultation report will be delivered at the March 29 board meeting. That report will outline community feedback during the one-month consultation as well as staff’s recommendations for next steps to address the capacity crunch at the high school.

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