(Updated – Poll Added) Changes at College Heights Secondary School
Update: UGDSB approves plan to expand Alternative Education in the board
At the December 12, 2023, Board Meeting of the Upper Grand District School Board, trustees approved a report on Reimagining Alternative Education.
An initial report was approved by the Board of Trustees in April that included direction to gather input from students, staff, parents/guardians, and the College Heights Secondary School community as well as other secondary schools across UGDSB. The final report, which was received at the December 5, 2023, Policy and Priorities Committee Meeting included details of the consultation, as well as a proposed timeline and next steps.
The Board of Trustees approved the recommendations laid out in the report, which includes establishing an Alternative Education High School at CHSS along with three Alternative Education Learning Centres located in the City of Guelph, Dufferin County and Wellington Country. A wide range of programs and services will be offered at each site and will be focused on students in grades 11, 12 and 12+, Continuing and Adult Education. This will result in expanded opportunities across UGDSB, including at CHSS.
The transition will be phased-in over a few years. Starting September 2024 students entering grade 9 will attend their local secondary school. There will be no change to special education classes at CHSS such as LRC10 at this time. Students currently enrolled at CHSS will be able to complete their studies through to Grade 12.
“The expansion of program offerings, both at CHSS and at the hubs including in Dufferin and Wellington Counties will provide more opportunities for learners across the region,” said UGDSB Chair of the Board, Ralf Mesenbrink. “I am excited to see the availability of additional experiential learning extended across the region and outside the traditional school day and school year.”
“We know this will be a change for the CHSS community, but we are excited to see the expansion of the school’s program offerings, expanding alternative education in the board, and leaning into learning that is flexible and personalized,” said UGDSB Director of Education, Peter Sovran. “This plan builds on CHSS’ commitment in putting students at the centre of everything they do.”
Starting next academic year, College Heights Secondary School (CHSS) will undergo significant changes, as announced by the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB). Following the Policy and Priorities Committee meeting on December 5, the board communicated to parents of CHSS students that the school will no longer offer programs for grades 9 and 10.
College Heights Secondary School Mission Statement:
Through practical, technical and service related education, College Heights Secondary School students will gain: literacy; numeracy; job and social skills; a sense of self-worth; and a positive attitude toward life and learning in a changing society.
This decision emerged from the meeting, which focused on reimagining alternative education across Guelph, Dufferin, and Wellington County. The committee has voted to reposition CHSS as a hub for alternative education, specifically catering to students in grades 11, 12, and 12+. This transformation will align CHSS with three other educational centers dedicated to providing specialized programs for upper-grade high school students.
- Potential changes were first mentioned back on April 13th.
- On November 23rd, concerns were raised in a discussion in the Caught in Guelph (and Area) Facebook community.
- On December 6th, CHSS released their recommended actions that will be presented to Trustees for approval at the December 12, 2023 Board Meeting.
- On December 13th, CHSS announced their approval on the plan to expand Alternative Education in the board.
As of September 2024, incoming grade 9 students will attend their local secondary schools and will not be able to enroll at CHSS. However, special education classes at CHSS will remain unchanged.
Peter Sovran, UGDSB’s director of education and secretary-treasurer, stated that the new centers will provide expanded educational opportunities. He added that these actions will be presented to the trustees for approval at the December 12 board meeting.
Chris Inglis, who graduated in ’97 from CHSS commented “Although i never got into the trades in this school. I ventured down the road athletics believe it or not in this school. And became pretty successful at it. My friends that have graduated are very successful today thanks to this school as well.”
“Heights was one of the best things. Grade 9 you got to sample different trades. Take what ever trade classes that interested you. I took auto, welding and machine shop ended up with my apprenticeship in transmissions before I had even graduated. I’ve since side stepped and have worked in motorcycles, general auto, oil and gas, machining, arborist, and now welding. Have actual trades to fall back on, and no shortage of job opportunities. Heights should be turned back to a trades school, for those who want to learn trades.” commented Caught in Guelph (and Area) member James Ringer.
Valorie Hebert commented “This impending change will definitely leave a huge educational hole that many students will fall through after the completion of grade 8. My grandson is currently in grade eleven at College Heights, having transferred from Centennial where he struggled for two years. This change will be a positive for him, and many others who need a more structured learning plan. Unfortunately, there seems to be no plan for kids entering grade nine next year. Having worked at College Heights for many years, I know that Upper Grand has been considering change there, in large part, due to declining enrollment. This has led to lengthy consideration by admin. To determine how best to use this educational facility, so that it remains a viable vocational institute. Having said that, I also see the need for another option for parents of students entering grade nine next year, who require more individual learning plans.”
The upcoming changes at CHSS reflect a broader shift in the UGDSB’s approach to alternative education, with the intention of offering more personalized and flexible learning experiences for high school students in grades 11 and above.