Tag Archives: Cedar

SD68 $5 million renovation of Cedar Secondary to Cedar Elementary

Converting Cedar Secondary School to Cedar Elementary is an unnecessary project which will cost taxpayers over $5 million when all the dust settles. This tax burden will leave  Cedar residents without a high school for their children.

There is another elementary school located 2.8 km away from the proposed Cedar Elementary that is ranked top in the district. Woodbank Elementary, which is slated to close in 2015, has a sports field that is in perfect shape, does not require video surveillance in order to keep the students safely supervised and is situated next to roads that allow  students to safely walk and ride their bikes to school.  Woodbank could be retrofitted to fit the required number of elementary students for less than $500,000.

Why would SD68 choose to spend $5 million when they could spend $500,000?

Fixing the Sports Field at Cedar Secondary:

The sports field at Cedar Secondary has been unusable for years because it is in a constant state of being flooded.

March 13, 2014: Trustee Saunders asked SD68 if they had budgeted out how much it would be to fix the sports field. She was told that SD68 hadn’t looked into the issue.

Yet in a Freedom of Information request obtained by Save Cedar Schools it was discovered that the staff had received cost estimates for fixing the sports field in 2013 and had already spent $17,000 for a site assessment. Why did they mislead Trustee Saunders?

Field at Cedar Secondary - $16K for preliminary reports and $750K to repair
Sports field at Cedar Secondary – over $750,000 estimated to repair

On March 5, 2013, Newcastle Engineering submitted a proposal for a $16,985 site assessment of the sports field.

January 10, 2014: Pete Sabo sent an email to Brian Hackwood requesting a quote for a video surveillance system that would cover the entire Cedar Secondary site, including the skate park and the interior of the school.

January 13, 2014: Brent Spohn authorized Newcastle Engineering to proceed with the  site assessment of the Cedar Secondary sports fields.

Muddy Sports Field at Cedar Secondary - not good for children
Muddy Sports Field at Cedar Secondary – not good for children. Was this area once a wetland?

February 21, 2014: Spohn received a preliminary cost estimate for the sports field and copied the message to Sabo. The quote for the sports field remediation was $754,845.

February 26, 2014: Spohn received an email from Jan Michael Williams at Unitech Construction Management with an ‘updated’ quote for the elementary conversion project for $2,659,558.

This quote did NOT include:

  • the cost of repairing the sports field
  • jobs being done by district staff members
  • construction management fees

If one includes these costs into the total cost for the original plan, the estimate is closer to the $5 million quoted by community members.

February 28, 2014: Spohn sent an email to Sabo asking for his input on a report he was working on which revealed that Cedar Elementary opening capacity is below base plan and that “attached is a future growth plan for increasing enrollment”. (The attachment was not received in the FOI request).

Hiding Information from the Parents:

March 2, 2014: Sabo sent out an email to:

Cathal Walsh, Bob Esliger, Bassem Tawfik,  Gregg Brown, Brian Parker (of Unitech),  John Blain, J. Williams of Unitech, L Rowley of Herold  Engineering, Les Brown of RB Engineering, Stephen McNicholls of RB Engineering and Scott Lewis of  Newcastle Engineering.

No members of the School Construction Committee were sent a copy of this email.

In this email Sabo requested that the School Construction Committee NOT be informed of the latest discussions.

In the email Sabo requested input on an ‘alternative’ plan for the renovations of Cedar Secondary based on the proposals received from Unitech on February 26th.

March 7, 2014: Unitech sent a new estimate to Spohn and Sabo.

SD68 didn’t include repair of the Cedar Secondary sports field in original plans:
On March 13, 2014:  at the School Construction Committee (SCC) meeting, the SCC asked the SD68 if they had estimates for the sports field improvement project.  SD68 wouldn’t provide any information.

SD68 knew about the conditions of the Cedar Secondary sports field yet they ignored the issue until parents on the School Construction Committee (SCC) expressed concerns.

April 23, 2014: Parent volunteers from the School Construction Committee gave a presentation about including the repair of the sports field in the school conversion project.

No Money for North Oyster
SD68 has decided to keep North Oyster Elementary School open. It will have more students in it than the current proposed Cedar Elementary. North Oyster requires upgrading, yet no money has been allotted to this school.

The families in all elementary schools surrounding the proposed Cedar Elementary are entitled to know. Is this school conversion project a valid use of taxpayers’ money?  Parents WANT a high school in their community.  IS anyone listening?

(Images courtesy of Save Cedar Schools).

Outrage over unsafe, unusable, empty schools in SD68

When SD68 trustees voted to create Cedar Elementary on June 26, 2013, it was proposed to be a 475 student mega elementary with an arts focused, small learning communities model. In review: 

  • “The new school will be the envy of the District and the entire Island and peoples in Cedar will be excited for their children’s Educations [sic].”  Trustee Bill Bard in an email to a community member in Cedar on September 21, 2013
  • “Cedar Elementary… offers exciting opportunities for elementary education in the Cedar community. Consultation with parents during the planning process will result in a facility and school educational philosophy that is supported by the majority of Cedar parents.” Superintendent Dave Hutchinson in a report to the Board of Education on October 23, 2012.
  • “Cedar Elementary will result in the implementation of an arts-focused elementary school model in Cedar.” Dr. Player Report to the district, April 11, 2013
  • “Cedar Elementary should include a ‘Da Vinci studio’ for inventive play by all age groups” Report from Cedar Elementary Visioning Workshop, September 13, 2013
  • “Cedar Elementary will blur indoor-outdoor space because views and access to the outdoors is important.”  Report from Cedar Elementary Visioning Workshop, September 13, 2013

On March 13, district staff released the latest plans for the school they have described as the “crown jewel elementary school” of the district. The school is now projected to have only 277 students and will still cost over $2 million to renovate. The latest architectural plans show:

  • that there will be no arts focus at the school,
  • the outdoor playfields, which are unusable for 8 of the 10 months of the school year, will not be upgraded
  • the woodshop and tech wings will remain in the school and boarded up
  • washroom vanities and fixtures will not be lowered
  • lockers will remain in the hallways
  • water fountains will not be lowered and traffic safety measures will not be considered.

So the crown jewel school that was to house 475 students and be the envy of the District and entire island will now be a half-empty, half-renovated repurposed high school with unsafe and unusable outdoor playfields located next to a commercial marijuana grow op.”

Cedar Community Secondary School
Cedar Community Secondary School to be converted into a ‘mega elementary’ – leaves Cedar with no high school and causes $2 million renovation which SD68 cannot afford.

Save Cedar Schools Coalition has argued that the enrollment projections of 475 for Cedar Elementary were overly optimistic. For months the district has ignored pleas to rethink the use of Cedar Secondary for elementary use.

Of particular concern for Save Cedar Schools is the use of the district’s “Annual Facilities Grant” for the renovation of Cedar Secondary into a half-empty elementary school. According to the Ministry of Education, the AFG is “intended for annual facility projects required to maintain facility assets through their anticipated economic life and to prevent premature deterioration of these assets.”

So SD68 is choosing to “reallocate high priority District-wide annual programs including roof replacement, flooring, and painting” (SD68 Actions Sheet, March 13, 2014) to pay for the renovation of Cedar Elementary. This means that if you have a school that needs a new roof or gym floor and paint job, SD68 staff has chosen to put aside that maintenance in order to funnel the money and resources into renovating the NEWEST and FULLEST high school in the district into a half empty elementary school.

Closing more schools to fill ‘mega’ elementary
Even more distressing is that under this plan we will end up with MORE empty operating seats than we currently have in the area. Not only is this latest version of the plan bad for Cedar students, it is bad for the entire district.

SD68 keeps telling the community that Cedar Elementary has the potential to be a really great school in 10 years. Well, 10 years isn’t good enough for the students that will be stuck in an unsafe, half-empty high school with no play fields in September, 2015. Especially since it will cost $2 million to put them there. Furthermore, in order to make that school “really great” they will have to close another school to fill Cedar Elementary.

Which will that be, Chase River, North Oyster or Cinnabar Valley? At this point you might as well just throw a dart at the map, it would make more sense than any of the planning mechanisms our district seems to be using. They keep saying that these decisions are good for the entire district, but they seem to be forgetting that Cedar is part of the district too and if this plan is bad for the students of Cedar, it is also bad for the district.

Save Woodbank Primary
Save Cedar Schools has suggested repeatedly over the months that the district rethink the proposal for Cedar Elementary and consider renovating Woodbank Primary School for use as a k-7 school for the Cedar Area. The school can hold 229 students and has usable and safe outdoor playfields and equipment. It also has one of the best facilities ratings in the district and will be sitting empty 3 km away from the propose Cedar Elementary.

Woodbank Primary School
Woodbank Primary School at 1984 Woobank Road in Cedar scheduled to close in 2015

Save Cedar Schools has asked their zone trustee to consider making a recommendation at the board table to reopen the Cedar Elementary decision in light of the rising costs and dropping enrolment. Cedar Zone Trustee Nancy Curley responded that, “The decision has already been made…and the board is moving forward with the reconfiguration of the school.” During this time, where we are facing a $5.4 million operating shortfall, to spend this kind of money to end up with more empty seats in the district is financially irresponsible.

The renovation of Woodbank Primary into a k-7 school would be more economically and educationally sound.

Frustration Grows re closure of Cedar Secondary School

Nanaimo Ladysmith School Board SD68 meets today, January 8, 2013 at 6pm in their offices to decide if they’re going to force Cedar residents to send their children to John Barsby Secondary School, or listen and provide busing to Ladysmith Secondary School (LSS) from Cedar, where the majority of parents want to send their children.  This all began when plans were made to close Cedar Secondary School; just built ten years ago.

The following is a press release from Save Cedar Schools Coalition:

Is this getting old yet folks? Save Cedar Schools is once again outraged by the latest district report outlining the cost to bus Cedar high school students out of their own community. “This report is another in a long line of examples of how our district staff will manipulate numbers in order to try to force this plan to work,” said Steve Rae of the Save Cedar Schools Coalition. The district staff report is troubling for many reasons, but three stand out as the most important to highlight.

1. The current busing costs outlined in the “Report on Busing to John Barsby and Ladysmith Secondary” are highly misleading. The report states that to bus students to Barsby only, will cost $455,878 (purchase of 2 buses plus an annual cost of $175,878) but to bus students to LSS and Barsby will cost $868,680 (purchase cost of 4 buses plus an annual cost of $308,680). What is missing in these calculations is that the cost of $455,878 is only for the Cedar students who chose John Barsby Secondary School as their school of “choice.”

 “When the trustees voted to close Cedar Community Secondary School they ensured that every single high school aged child in Cedar is no longer within walking distance of a high school and therefore must now be bused to school no matter what”.

The bottom line is that if every student chose Barsby, as the district wanted, it would cost $728,680 (purchase of 3 buses plus an annual operating cost of $308,680) to bus students to John Barsby. Steve Rae stated, “The district report stating a difference of $412,802 to run buses to both LSS and Barsby is highly misleading and does not account for the actual number of students that now MUST ALL be bused out of their own community to attend high school. We expect that the Trustees, our elected representatives can see through this intentional manipulation of the numbers and do the right thing when reviewing this report”.

2. Families in Cedar came out loud and clear during the consultation process and said we want our own community school to stay open but if you must close it, we want LSS to be our catchment school. Rae states, “Despite every effort by the district to coerce Cedar families to Barsby, over half chose LSS. The trustees have a tough decision to make here, do they recognize the will of their constituents and make LSS the catchment school for Cedar families or do they opt for the more expensive option of having two bus routes in order to fill Barsby? The right educational and economic choice is obvious.”

3. In the plan that was tabled to the public and approved by trustees in June, the cost of busing ALL cedar students to Barsby was listed at $281,200. The district also hoped that the ministry of education would reward their school closures by buying the new buses necessary to move all these displaced Cedar Students. However, that is not ministry policy. Ministry policy states they will replace aging buses but not buy new ones that are needed as a result of school closures.

“So now we find out that the actual number is closer to $500k for less than half the students and closer to $750k for all the students, what happened to $281,200? Did they make that up? And if they made that up, what else did they make up?” Rae asked.

This means that the hoped for operational savings listed by closing Cedar Secondary School no longer exist. It only costs $658,363 to run Cedar Secondary School each year. Rae goes on to say, “All along the Save Cedar Schools Coalition has asserted that the costs and savings stated by the district were incorrect. 

months later, AFTER the vote we find out that it is going to cost between $500,000-$750,000 to bus students out of the community, this whole plan is just plain wrong and everything about it stinks

Furthermore, since the ministry is not going to buy the buses as hoped, the district now needs to pay for four buses to bus Cedar students away from the newest and fullest high school in the district. This means $540,000 is going to be spent to buy the necessary buses and that is $540k that is not being spent in other necessary areas in this district.

So let’s review the success of the Enhanced Facilities for Learning Plan so far; we have soaring transportation costs associated with a plan that was supposed to save money. Through volunteers on the school construction committee, we know that the costs of renovating Cedar Secondary into an elementary school are mounting beyond the approved budget of $1.5 million and trustees on this committee have stated that this original number was “made up.”

We learned through our FOI’s that the district and trustees have known since July 11 that there is no money coming from the ministry for the many new build schools they have planned in Ladysmith and Nanaimo, including the new NDSS. And finally, the district is fighting a lawsuit from the Snuneymuxw First Nation over a lack of consultation regarding this plan when all they needed to do was just sit down at the table with them.

The proverbial wheels are coming off the bus here folks, the right thing to do is to stop, take a breath and do a thorough and proper analysis of what are the best economical and educational choices to make for the district as a whole in time when our district is facing a $6 million operational shortfall.

The Save Cedar Schools coalition has numerous costed options that would result in a newly built high school in the city proper that doesn’t rely on ministry funding and would still allow John Barsby to remain open and Cedar to keep the newest and fullest high school in the district open. Once again, we look forward to meeting with the trustees to discuss these options when they finally realize that this plan is a complete and utter failure for the ENTIRE school district.

SD68 school closures and coal mines

On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, the Nanaimo/Ladysmith School Trustees voted on accepting a 10 year educational plan for School District 68 (SD68). The SD68 school closures are as follows:

2013 School Closures:
Junior Learning Alternatives, 897 Harbour View St., Nanaimo
South Wellington Elementary, 1536 Morden Road, Nanaimo

2014 School Closures:
Senior Learning Alternatives (VAST), 10 Strickland St., Nanaimo
Cedar Community Secondary, 1640 Macmillan Rd, Nanaimo

2015 School Closures:
Woodbank Primary, 1984 Woobank Rd., Nanaimo
North Cedar Intermediate, 2215 Gould Road, Nanaimo

Deferred School Closures:
North Oyster Elementary, 13470 Cedar Road
École Davis Road Elementary, 444 Parkhill Terrace, Ladysmith

Cedar School Closure Map
SD68 School Closure Map

Ladysmith École Davis Road Elementary fights on

Ladysmith Ecole Davis School
Ladysmith Ecole Davis School

Elementary School École Davis Road in Ladysmith was slated in 2012 as the first school in SD68 to receive renovations. Now SD68 wants to close it.

Before these school closures were announced, SD68 had 31 elementary schools, 7 secondary schools and 2 secondary alternate schools.

Nanaimo gets school closures; Victoria gets new schools

At the same time as Nanaimo, Cedar, and Ladysmith are facing school closures, Oak Bay, Langford, and Sooke are getting new schools, as part of the province’s $353 million school capital plan announced in October 31, 2011.

SD62 (Sooke) and Oak Bay will get 3 secondary schools for a total cost of $144.9 million:

  • replacement for Belmont Secondary $54 million
  • new secondary school in Royal Bay $40.8 million
  • new Oak Bay High School $50.1 million

George Abbott, former Minister of Education, had announced on December 9, 2011:

“$1.5 million in funding will be provided to support rural and remote elementary schools with fewer than 75 students that are 40 km from the next school… $3.7 million in funding will be added to the Low Enrolment Factor, increasing it to approximately $52.8 million to provide $1.375 million to every district with 2,500 or fewer students.”

Did they find more coal deposits and need a reason to clear everyone out? Rumours are flying around that the new Nanaimo hotel will house temporary foreign workers who will work in Cedar and Extension coal mines.

Free Septic Smart Workshops

The Regional District of Nanaimo is offering free Septic Smart workshops to residents on how to properly care for their residential septic systems.

Learn how to maintain your septic system so that it will last longer and function properly and have the least impact on your house and property.

Gabriola Commons  Monday October 29, 6:30 – 8:00pm  675 North Road, Gabriola Island.

Bradley Centre  Tuesday October 30, 6:30 – 8:00pm  975 Shearme Road, Coombs.

Cranberry Hall  Wednesday November 7, 6:30 – 8:00pm  1555 Morden Road, South Wellington.

Register for the workshops by calling 250-248-3252 or 1-888-828-2069 for more information visit the Regional District of Nanaimo

Cedar Main Street Design Project

You are invited to an open house on the Cedar Main Street Project – Community Design Charrette.

The Open House will be held at Cedar Secondary School, 1640 MacMillan Road, on     Tuesday, June 19, 2012 from 4pm to 7pm followed by a presentation from 7pm to 9pm.

This planning initiative is aimed at creating an illustrated village plan for the area, which includes the lands located on both sides of Cedar Road between MacMillan and Hemer Roads.

The Cedar Main Street Design Project is intended to guide the future development of the main street corridor. The resulting plan could result in changes within the community including land use, transportation, housing, recreation, employment, and servicing.

For more information visit the Regional District of Nanaimo.