Yes, there will be an arts and technology high school in Chilliwack.
After months of consultation and pre-planning, the school board voted enthusiastically in favour of the addition to the local school district. The new school will be located at the old UFV Theatre site on Yale Road, in the theatre and surrounding buildings. It is slated to be ready in September 2020, one year later than originally hoped by the district.
It is being referred to as an Integrated Arts and Technology school, and will be a school of choice for students in Grade 9 through 12.
The unique layout of the school’s buildings lends itself to the arts, culinary space, and technology classrooms, senior staff said at public consultation meetings held last month.
The proximity of the new high school to A.D. Rundle middle school brought about ideas to turn the middle school into an arts and tech-focused school as well. The addition of wording to that effect didn’t sit well with Trustee Heather Maahs, who wanted to separate the motion into two motions, and vote separately.
That would have potentially given the board more time to consult with the public on the future of A.D. Rundle, she argued. She believes the public wasn’t aware of possible change to the middle school.
Having an arts stream at A.D. Rundle would mean a seamless transition for students involved in the arts at F.G. Leary, an elementary school of choice. Students could focus on the arts from Kindergarten through to graduation.
There will be a symbiotic relationship between the new school and A.D. Rundle. Students at the new school will also be using technology facilities, playing fields and other facilities at A.D. Rundle, while middle school students would have access to certain aspects of the new high school.
Despite her reservations about the lack of consultation, Maahs voted in favour of the motion. Trustee Barry Neufeld voted against the new school, due to the tight financial situation the district is in. The district is currently short $2.5 million for a planned elementary on the south side of Chilliwack, half of their expected contribution to the project.