Program for pregnant teens slated for relocation to regular school


Breadcrumb Trail Links

‘Louise Dean should stay as a completely different program because we need our own space as mothers,’ said one student

Publishing date:

Sep 27, 2022  •  3 hours ago  •  3 minute read  •  The Louise Dean Centre in Kensington on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. The Louise Dean Centre in Kensington on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Article content

Despite vehement opposition from students and staff, public school trustees have unanimously agreed to gather public input as they consider closure and relocation of a historic program for pregnant teens from its inner-city location to a regular high school in Forest Lawn.

Advertisement 2

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The Louise Dean Centre, which provides instruction for about 50 students in grades 9 to 12, along with on-site child care, life skills programming and mental-health supports, is exclusive to only pregnant teens and young mothers at Kensington School.

By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300

Article content

But officials said that as enrolment drops at LDC, along with rates of teen pregnancies across the country, the program is in danger of closure at the existing site.

Because of increasing pressure to ensure schools are full to receive provincial funding, the Calgary Board of Education is proposing to move the program to Jack James, a regular high school in Forest Lawn, which is also facing low enrolment.

CBE trustees argued at Tuesday’s board meeting that relocation could be better for the program by expanding its supports in a larger setting.

Advertisement 3

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“The concerns and questions of staff and students are important, but I don’t see any challenges that are so insurmountable that they cannot be addressed by collaborative, creative and solution-focused thinking by the professional staff of both of these schools,” said trustee Marilyn Dennis.

Earlier this spring, LDC was listed among 22 schools that could be considered for closure in the next 10 years, as boards across Alberta face pressure to meet Alberta Education’s threshold of an 85 per cent utilization rate to receive full operational funding.

But students and staff at LDC who were surveyed for a brief two-week window in May spoke out against the change, arguing that students would be too vulnerable in a regular school setting.

Advertisement 4

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“Louise Dean should stay as a completely different program because we need our own space as mothers,” said one student.

“I have been through getting bullied and abused by the students at my old school because I am a young mom. Louise Dean School has helped teen moms avoid going through all that by specializing as a school with only pregnant girls and moms.

“We need to keep Louise Dean its own program to make sure all teen moms complete school and have the ability to reach their goals.”

Another student feared for the safety of LDC students, adding, “the transition from student to parent is hard enough without the bullying and discomfort that normal high school causes.”

  1. The Calgary Board of Education headquarters along 8th St. and 12th Ave. SW. Tuesday, January 25, 2022.

    CBE proposes to remove 14,500 student seats, or 22 schools, over next decade

  2. North Haven Elementary School was photographed on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

    Public schools and special programs face potential closures and relocations

  3. Pedestrians pass by the Calgary Board of Education building is shown In downtown Calgary on Tuesday, December 7, 2021.

    Budget 2022: Ambitious plans for education, despite small budget increase

One teacher at LDC said in the survey that safety would be a huge concern at a regular high school, but also that the range of unique programs would be lost, from quality child care to trauma-based supports.

Advertisement 5

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“It is very clear that the location is not up for debate — yet it is very clear that the location is the concern for many students and staff.

“Perhaps more consultative conversation to hear the actual student body and previous alumni students of what they know and believe is a safe environment. The feeling amongst students is that their voice is not being heard, like being not allowed to speak in community meetings, their questions not being posted in chat room of the Teams community meeting, and that there was not any open dialogue offered for parents of teens that were also in attendance.

“Please give these students and staff a voice as that is what is Trauma-Informed Practice.”

But CBE administrators vowed that child care and expanded supports would be ensured at the new location, along with renovations that would allow for an enclosed entryway and private space for LDC students.

Advertisement 6

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“The safety and security of these students would be first and foremost,” said Andrea Holowka, CBE superintendent of school improvement.

“And they will still have access to all of the supports — sheltered programming, counselling and medical supports — in a safe, caring and private environment.”

In fact, Holowka said, each individual student would be offered specific transition support for themselves and their child in terms of what their needs will be at the new location.

Public engagement sessions are expected to start in the coming months, with a proposed closure and relocation set for the 2024-25 school year.

eferguson@postmedia.com

Share this article in your social network

Advertisement 1

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.