Chilliwack School District has voted in favour of renovating the old Fraser Valley Distance Education site on Prairie Central Road, to move the Learning Services department there. In the future, students could get use out of the site once again as well. (Google image)

New life for old Distance Ed site in the works

Chilliwack school district eyes up Prairie Central site for learning services

The old Distance Education building on Prairie Central Road will soon have a new use — and not as a school site.

The Chilliwack School Board has voted in favour of relocating a component of the district’s teaching team to the site, at a cost of about $850,000. The cost is mostly for renovations, including asbestos mitigation, a furnace upgrade, millwork, new windows and electrical work.

The Learning Services department has run out of room to operate in its current location at the district office on Airport and Cessna. The department of 65 employees includes a variety of specialists, counsellors and support staff, including hearing, vision and speech specialists, early language learning teachers, curriculum support and Aboriginal educators.

Already, 18 of those specialists have been moved to the Neighbourhood Learning Centre (NLC) to make room at the board office. But space there is going to be needed as enrolment at neighbouring Chilliwack secondary school continues to grow.

Despite moving those staff to the NLC, there is still inadequate space at the district office, secretary-treasurer Gerry Slykhuis told the board of trustees last Tuesday. A redesign of the old Distance Education school will create functional space for 67 staff members, allowing them all to work in a collaborative space, he added.

As a bonus, they are looking at developing a demonstration outdoor classroom for use by students and staff at the site. Additionally, it would free up space at the cramped district office.

While the price tag for the work is near $1 million, Slykhuis pointed out that with the exception of the renovations and painting, much of the work was needed simply to maintain the building for future use. The building is not suitable for an elementary school, he said. But it is a five-acre parcel and there is a possibility of extending the alternate eduction program in the future, too.

Trustee Heather Maahs voted against the project.

“I am very reluctant to support a motion spending $1 million on a building for staff,” Maahs said. “And I wish we had some good concrete examples of how we’d also be able to use this building for the students. This is sort of a pie in the sky idea right now, not a concrete plan.”

Board chair Paul McManus said the district needs to just “gulp and move on and get this done.”

Fraser Valley Distance Education moved into the Neighbourhood Learning Centre, adjacent to Chilliwack secondary school, when the new school was opened in 2013.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Birds were saved but the buildings on Castleman Road were destroyed by fire

Chilliwack Fair kicks off tonight with local talent

Todd Richard and Appaloosa to hit the stage for drive-in concert at fairgrounds

PHOTOS: Moving day for 110-year-old Chilliwack heritage house

House-moving company relocated Hope River Road home to Riverside Drive

UPDATE w/ PHOTOS: Chilliwack fire crews tackle vacant house fire on Rowat Avenue Friday

Empty house was boarded up and behind fencing on lots slated for redevelopment

VIDEO: Chilliwack chicken barn destroyed by fire

Chickens saved from blaze as firefighters work to control large fire

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Plainclothes Abbotsford police officer deletes cellphone video after drawing gun on innocent man

‘They never asked me what I was doing there, strictly came out with guns, threatening to shoot me’

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for Aug. 7

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Most Read