‘It’s a tough conversation:’ SD68 to launch catchment adjustment consultations | NanaimoNewsNOW

‘It’s a tough conversation:’ SD68 to launch catchment adjustment consultations | NanaimoNewsNOW

SD68 is scheduled to unveil a “one-stop” consultation website next week, with public feedback accepted until the end of June, while information about the board’s decision has already been delivered to impacted students and families.

As it stands now Rutherford catchment students in grade seven as of September 2025 would be able to remain at their previous school, while their siblings could also stay put for one year.

“To get it to be vibrant, to get it to be well over 200 kids from the start gives it a good head-start and it also makes sure the long-term viability and desirability of the school is there,” Walsh said.

He estimates 250-275 students will attend Rutherford school during year one, with the facility’s capacity at 340 excluding portables.

Should the SD68 board approve the plan, Walsh said subsequent transfer requests prioritizing impacted students to one of their highly subscribed north Nanaimo schools are welcomed, but likely won’t be successful.

“We want to also make it very clear with our community that there will be very limited opportunity for that. We might have a few spaces in a school per year that allows for cross-boundary because of high demand.”

Out-of-catchment students attending the four over-subscribed schools won’t be required to transfer, with Walsh noting requiring those students to return to their catchment schools would have a major impact across the district.

Aside from Rutherford school primarily absorbing portions of Frank J. Ney and Randerson’s boundaries, another significant proposed change would put Departure Bay school students on the move.

Existing Departure Bay students residing in the Oakridge and Stephenson Point areas will be mandated to transfer to Frank J. Ney school, which SD68 estimates will impact between 80 to 100 students.

Those students would also be diverted to Dover Bay as opposed to Wellington Secondary School.

Walsh estimates the recommendation as proposed would eliminate all 10 portables currently housing students at McGirr, Randerson Ridge, Frank J. Ney and Departure Bay schools.

While a final decision on the proposed new north Nanaimo school boundary catchments isn’t required by early next year, Walsh said they’re hoping a final decision will be made by this fall.

The new-look Rutherford school will include SD68-operated before and after-school care programming, Walsh noted.

Jacquie Poulin, assistant superintendent responsible for district elementary schools, said on top of being less than ideal learning environments, portables put a strain on other school components.

“It puts pressure on the other resources in the building, it puts pressure on your gymnasium, it puts pressure on your library because you have more classes than what the building was originally designed for.”

Poulin said transitional work will involve events to connect with future Rutherford students and their families to help integrate them into the facility prior to opening.

Mike Lundine, current principal of Rock City school has been named principal of Rutherford school, with Poulin noting he will serve a key role in the transition process.

She said targeted enhancements to the school will be made.

SD68 estimates $2.4 million worth of upgrades to Rutherford school will be made by the time it opens, including $1 million already spent when Pleasant Valley school students temporarily attended the facility two years ago.

“I’m confident in working with facilities that they’re doing an amazing job to look at the aesthetics as well as the physical plant itself to make it a spot that children will want to come. The classrooms themselves are large, which is great, because it’s one of our older builds,” Poulin said.

Minor proposed adjustments were also in play for Seaview, Rock City, Uplands Park and Cilaire schools.

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