The Lacombe Outreach School have been forced to make the decision to cancel their junior high programming starting next year.
The choice is partly due to budget cuts and partly due to a lack of space due to school being relocated to a new location.
“The building available was not large enough for all the programs we offer. Typically outreach schools have been Grades 10 to 12, but this division chose to support junior high-aged kids which is not usual. This was a bonus we had in the Wolf Creek Public School (WCPS) division,” Rob Reid, Lacombe Outreach School principal, said.
Currently the school is leasing the old Pentecostal Church in Lacombe, but will be moving this fall to a new building closer to the high school and the junior high. The new facility is, unlike the previous building, owned by WCPS but is also roughly 6,000 sq. feet — down from 9,000 sq. feet.
“We had to make a hard decision and the junior high was the program that took the hit in terms of down-sizing and budget cuts,” he said.
Reid said junior highs in both Blackfalds and Lacombe have been able to further their programming in order to accommodate for student requiring alternative programming, but the Outreach School will support some students next year.
“We are grandfathering a couple students we have here into another program. They had been with us for a few years and are going into Grade 9,” he said.
Reid said the they will be able to adapt to the smaller space, especially considering they are used to being creative and flexible in there programming.
“When this pandemic hit, we were best suited to flow with it compared to traditional classrooms. We will be in a smaller building but it is more suited to our school,” he said.
Ultimately, Reid said WCPS is renovating the new facility in a way benefiting students.
“They are spending a lot of effort to ensure it is a place students will be proud to attend and we are also moving to a place that is the hub of the other schools, so we can support each other.We are another arm and extension of other schools here in Wolf Creek Public Schools. We are another way to support students,” he said.
Furthermore, Reid wanted to clarify any misconceptions in the community regarding the role of the Lacombe Outreach School in the community.
“People will often think it is where all the ‘bad kids’ go, and that is so not true at all. Many of our students are just kids who may be anxious in a larger school setting or just can’t attend because of scheduling. They need a more flexible learning environment,” he said.
The Lacombe Outreach School is planning a grand opening of their new facility sometime in Fall 2020.