The public had the chance to discuss the pros and cons of a new Integrated Arts and Technology school for Chilliwack on Tuesday night.
School district senior staff hosted the first of two public consultation meetings for the proposed school, which will be housed in former UFV buildings on Yale Road. The site, purchased by the school district earlier this year, includes the old UFV theatre, adjoining classrooms and rehearsal spaces, and a commercial kitchen.
The site lends itself to the creation of an arts-focused school, acting superintendent Janet Hall said during the consultation. It’s a change from the traditional process of building a school from the ground up, she added, and means they can get the school operational sooner than usual.
The school was originally hoped to be open by September 2020, but the timing of funding among other issues has slowed down the process. It is now looking more likely for a September 2021 opening, she said.
If the school is approved by the board of education, the next step would be to hire a principal who would handle issues like hiring staff and creating a course calendar.
The arts school would potentially work closely with AD Rundle middle school, which could also transition into an art-focused school, Hall said. That would provide an arts education to students from Kindergarten through to graduation, with the inclusion of FG Leary elementary, which is already an arts school.
However, the finite details have not been worked out yet, she said.
There were just under 30 people at the consultation, including teachers, staff, and parents. Three trustees were also in attendance, Dan Coulter, Willow Reichelt and David Swankey. The format had a senior staffer at each of the three tables, and there were large displays with blueprints for the buildings, parking spaces, and potential new enter and exit points for traffic.
A second public consultation will take place April 24 at 7 p.m., at Sardis secondary school. The public can also contribute to the discussion through an online forum set up called ThoughtExchange. For information on that forum, visit www.sd33.bc.ca.