Chilliwack school district considering grade reconfiguration

The public was invited out to two public meetings this week to discuss shifting middle school to a Grade 6-8 model

  • Oct. 26, 2016 5:00 p.m.
Steve Kutno

Steve Kutno

Parents had their first chance to publicly speak up about a possible change to the Chilliwack school system Monday night.

The school district is looking seriously into what a new grade configuration would look like. Currently schools are divided from Kindergarten to Grade 6, Grades 7 through 9, and 10 through 12.

A reconfiguration would the shorten elementary school experience, ending at Grade 5. Middle school would include grades 6 though 8, and high school would begin at Grade 9.

Superintendent Evelyn Novak underlined that they haven’t decided whether or not to move ahead with the change, but they have hired a consultation firm to explore the idea. She said it’s not impossible to imagine having a reconfiguration in place as early as September 2017.

“This is a big change and it would take some time,” she said, adding nothing is impossible.

PCG Education moderated most of the meeting on Monday night, held at Chilliwack secondary’s Alumni Hall. (A second public meeting took place at Sardis secondary on Tuesday night). They prompted the crowd to think equally of opportunities and obstacles regarding the potential change. Parents, teachers, administrators, trustees, staff, and even one student, filled the hall.

There were mixed feelings, with some in favour of certain points but strongly against others.

However, points for or against the reconfiguration won’t end up being the deciding factor in whether the school district moves ahead with the reconfiguration. As PCG’s Stephen Kutno noted, the observations and questions posed by these consultation meetings will help build a framework if the plan does move ahead.

“Opportunities are not a reason to do something, and obstacles are not a reason to not do something,” he explained.

Still, the public’s opinion is being weighted on the matter. PCG also met separately with other interest groups through the early week, including staff, teachers, administrators and CUPE members.

A report from all of the meetings will be presented to the board, and available in public format. That could happen sometime in January or February, Kutno said.

While the focus of the meeting as directly on the effect on students, many at the meeting questioned more substantial aspects of the change.

Questions posed to the moderators included: How much will it cost? How exactly will it help overcrowding? How would facilities be changed? Where would the current Grade 6 teachers go?

None of those questions were answered, as it’s too early in the process to do so.

“We are about to climb Mt. Everest and we are still standing at the bottom looking up,” Kutno said. “We can’t answer operational questions yet.”

CSS humanities teacher Steve Anderson voiced several concerns with how reconfiguration would look at the high school level, pointing out that Grade 9 students aren’t ready for the rigours of high school.

Others worried about kids that would fall through the cracks in the transition year, including French immersion students, and those who have their school path laid out at schools of choice or academies.

One of the reasons for considering a change, Novak noted, was due to the new curriculum. Grade 6 lesson plans are now to include more hands-on learning, including subjects like foods and woodworking. Most elementary schools aren’t equipped for those subjects, while middle schools are.

One parent said that several parents she spoke with didn’t understand the notice about the reconfiguration, which didn’t mention clearly that grades could move to different schools.  She noted that the turnout may have been even better if that information was made clearer by the district.

Guests were invited to leave behind their questions, obstacles and opportunities on index cards, with their emails attached if they wished to hear back.

What do you think? Email your letters to


Just Posted

Rohan arul-Pragasam, Chilliwack School District’s interim superintendent, has been appointed superintendent of schools effective June 15, 2021. (Chilliwack School District)
Interim position becomes permanent for Rohan Arul-pragasam at Chilliwack School District

Arul-pragasam said he was ‘humbled to continue as a steward’ in new role as superintendent of schools

PlanCultus was adopted in 2017 as a guiding document for Cultus Lake Park. (Cultus Lake Park Board)
More affordable housing options could be coming to Cultus Lake Park

Online survey opened on June 14 to gauge opinion on plaza redevelopment eyed for Village Centre

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read