NLPS request for staff housing under review

Ministry of Education and Child Care staff are reviewing a request sent by Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ board of trustees for approval to provide housing to school district employees.

In May, NLPS board chair Charlene McKay sent a letter to Minister Jennifer Whiteside requesting the approval, which is required by the School Act. Section 102 of the act states that “a board may provide housing accommodation for its employees only if the minister grants prior approval.” The act also details how a board can set rent to be charged, by dividing the total estimated expenditures of the housing accommodation by the number of units of housing accommodation, whether occupied or not. A board can also rent out accommodations to non-employees if there are unfilled units.

Currently some boards in rural and remote parts of B.C. offer accommodation to employees known as teacherages. Vancouver Island West School District, for example, offers teacherages in Kyuquot and Zeballos. Some are mobile homes, some are single family homes and duplexes. Rents range from $505 to $605. In 2019, the North Vancouver School District said it was looking into securing apartments at a discounted rate for staff, the school district’s superintendent told CBC.

The ministry “does not regularly receive requests to establish teacherages, and at present there is no ministry policy or procedures for new requests or approvals,” Whiteside’s Sept. 22 response to McKay says. “In particular, the concept of developing a teacherage in an urban area may present unique considerations that will require close examination.” The letter says staff will reach out for further dialogue, but “considering a number of competing priorities,” that outreach could take several months.

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