Members of the Save Cedar Schools Coalition are hoping trustees in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district "have the courage" to change their minds about the district's new facilities plan after their presentation Wednesday.
Coalition spokesman Steve Rae said that after presenting the results of the group's research into the facilities plan at the meeting of the school board, he's "extremely hopeful" that the school board will revisit its previous decision to endorse the plan. Coalition members believe the decision to close Cedar Secondary
School and a number of small elementary schools in the area was based on faulty information.
The coalition claims that information provided to trustees indicating that academic performances of students in Cedar would improve with the facilities plan, and the district would save money by moving forward with its plans for Cedar schools, is incorrect.
But school board chairman Jamie Brennan said that after conferring with fellow trustees after Wednesday's meeting that saw almost 300 people show up to support the coalition, he thinks it's highly unlikely that the majority of the board will change its mind on the decisions that were made last spring in relation to schools in Cedar.
As for hopes that the B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender might decide to revisit his statements in support of the board now that the Snuneymuxw First Nation is launching legal action against the district over the facilities plan, and opposition to it from the Cedar area is apparently growing, a ministry spokesman said Thursday that
"no change whatsoever" should be expected from the ministry in regards to the issue.
Brennan also defended the board decision to establish a working group in Ladysmith as part of the extended consultation process on the proposals to close North Oyster and Davis Road elementary schools while not allowing the same processes in Cedar before the final decisions were made.
Brennan said that while the district has agreed to extend the public consultation process in Ladysmith, there's no guarantees that the "outcome may not lead to as much unhappiness" in Ladysmith that is currently being felt by many people in Cedar.
"We're hoping that trustees will give the information we provided on the facilities plan its due diligence and have the courage to step back and make the proper decisions that they would have made if they were provided with the right information in the first place," Rae said.
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