School district two-year budget calls for closure of four schools in 2016

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, May 5 2015

The Board of Education for Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District 68 is considering closing as many as four schools in June of 2016 as part of its “Next Steps” facilities plan proposed in its current budget.

The Board is in the middle of putting together a budget for 2015-2016 and as part of that is also looking at longer range ways of decreasing expenditures and increasing revenues.

A staff report to the Board presented last Thursday night said there would need to be four schools closed within SD68. The report does not state which four schools are being considered.

Board Chair Steve Rae said, “Those have not been decided on yet, there is a process.

“Staff will make a recommendation to the Board. We will vote on that. If it passes it will go to a 60 day consultation on each school that is decided on by the Board. We are not there yet.”

The report does note that among the three facility reports and other reports done in the past eight years, there is a common theme of capacity issues within the Woodlands, Nanaimo & District, John Basby and Ladysmith Secondary Schools.

There have also been capacity concerns with the Rutherford, Departure Bay and Cilaire Elementary Schools.

According to the staff report, the District has been in a deficit position for 12 of the past 13 years. For the past four years, the district has been in funding protection, with the Ministry of Education supplementing funding as the District continues to see what staff call a “significant enrolment decline.”

The supplemental monies have been reduced by 1.5% of the total budget each year, with the funding ending this coming fiscal year.

The school district is predicting a $4.5 million deficit for 2015/16 and $1.2 million for 2016/17, with the closure of the four schools helping offset the 2016/17 deficit.

This past week the current Board formally approved the re-opening of Cedar Secondary School (Grades 8-12). 

The previous Board had closed the school in June 2014, with 60 students now being bused to John Basby Secondary in Nanaimo while the remainder of the 250 Cedar students are bused to Ladysmith Secondary School.