Capital plan submissions emphasize NDSS upgrades

·2 min read

Minor and major capital requests have been approved by the Nanaimo Ladysmith School District board of education and will head to the Ministry of Education for review.

Ladysmith Intermediate and Nanaimo District Secondary School have the highest number of project requests in the 2023-24 minor capital plan as well as the 2023-24 five-year major capital plan.

Requests related to NDSS appear under the school enhancement program, seismic mitigation program, replacement projects and expansion projects. The repetition is intended to emphasize the need, Secretary-Treasurer Mark Walsh said at the June 8 business committee meeting.

“We’re sending a message the school is past its due date and we need to do something about it.”

Built for 1,400 students, enrolment projections have the school population reaching 1,769 students by the 2026-27 school year, the largest population at the school in 40 years. Two portables will be added during the 2022-23 school year, which will bring the total to six.

“We’re not trying to build a school to be 1,700, but we do realize if we have the opportunity to build a new school, we need to address that issue,” Walsh said.

Gabriola Elementary remains in the Group 1 priorities list of seismic mitigation program requests. The school numbers among projects the district is pitching to the ministry as small value along with Ecole Pauline Haarer, Brechin and Mountain View. Those schools represent projects the district can “move quickly on; as well it provides a geographic representation of our district,” Walsh explained.

Gabriola and NDSS are examples of requests that were not approved in NLPS’s previous five-year major capital plan submission. Year-to-year unapproved projects may be requested again and possibly move up on the list, Walsh told trustees. Some of that depends on if there are emerging priorities.

One of those shifts could include Rutherford Elementary, currently listed as one of the Group 4 seismic mitigation program projects, closed schools with high-risk seismic ratings. At its June 22 meeting, the board of education approved a motion to prepare for the re-opening of Rutherford Elementary School in September 2024 or 2025 following public consultation related to increasing enrolment in the north end of the district.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

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