Merger could improve alt ed in Chilliwack

Changes ahead for program delivery model, following unanimous trustee support

Changes are coming for alternate education in Chilliwack

Changes are coming for alternate education in Chilliwack

One of Chuck Lawson’s students recently moved to Chilliwack, and ended up staying at the Cyrus Centre.

She enrolled with Chilliwack School District alternate education program, to continue on in high school.

“She told me, ‘I didn’t have a home when I came here, but I have a home now at the Ed Centre,'” Lawson told school district trustees on Tuesday.

The anecdote highlights how important the Ed Centre and CHANCE-Shxwetetilthet are to the social and emotional well being of students at risk. And a planned merger of the two sites is hoped to give even more potential for strong connections to the students who need them the most.

Students at the Ed Centre don’t have a gymnasium. They make do with shared rooms and office space. Counseling sessions are sometimes held in hallways.

Lawson, along with Troy Gibbs and Rohan Arul-pragasam, presented their plan to the board this week, and it was approved unanimously.

Like the reconfiguration plan for the rest of Chilliwack schools, there are still a lot of details to be worked out. But, with the approval of the board the administration team will now be moving ahead to redesign their delivery model.

Over the last year, they’ve polled past and current students, staff and parents on their experiences. That feedback has helped build a potential plan for new programming.

The new faculties they would look at include trades, arts, kinesthetic learning, and an empowered program. Programs could include contract trades, outdoor education, culinary arts and nutrition, performing arts, and more. A new facility would ideally have a library, meeting rooms, a gymnasium, counseling spaces, room for outside agencies, and intentional learning spaces such as a greenhouse, shop facilities, or even a barn.

Building a new facility would be a long term project, but having the approval of the board means the plan could soon end up on the priorities list for capital funding. The admin team did not specify a location for the new facility, but did note that the current Ed Centre location on Elm Street would not be big enough for their full-scale plans.