Former theatre to house alternative school programs

Two alternative school programs in Red Deer Public School District will share space in a new location by the end of the year.

Construction crews work on what used to be the Park Plaza Theatre in Red Deer. The building is undergoing an extensive renovation and is to become an alternative public school site.

Construction crews work on what used to be the Park Plaza Theatre in Red Deer. The building is undergoing an extensive renovation and is to become an alternative public school site.

Two alternative school programs in Red Deer Public School District will share space in a new location by the end of the year.

The second floor of the old Park Plaza Theatre at 5214 47th Ave. is being transformed into two learning areas for the Quest High School and Outreach School Centre.

Chad Erickson, district principal of alternative programs and support services, said the facility will allow for more program flexibility, better learning environments and the sharing of resources between the two schools.

“It will help us retain students currently with alternative programs through appropriate and diverse programming,” said Erickson.

“Sometimes we have lost a few students and that’s just a nature of the students. We do have some attrition throughout the year but I think this will help us maintain our current levels of students.”

Students and staff are expected to move to the new facility by Dec. 31.

The estimated 12,300-square-foot site will boast about 50 per cent more space than the two previous locations combined.

As of Sept. 30, there were 53 students at Quest High School at 5580 45th St., and 186 registrations at the Outreach School Centre on 5015 48th St.

Students who attend Quest High School (Grades 9 to 12) may have struggled in mainstream schools for a variety of reasons, including attendance and behavioural.

The courses follow the Alberta Education curriculum.

The flexibility of programming at the Outreach School Centre (Grades 1 to 12) appeals to students who may work part-time, need extra courses, or have busy schedules. The centre offers distance learning, work experience and home education among the programming.

Although the alternative programs may amalgamate in the future, the schools will operate separately and will share resources and collaborate when needed under the same roof.

The new facility will boast larger and brighter classrooms, a kitchen, multi-purpose spaces and offices for administration.

In May, the school board inked a five-year lease for the space and the construction project has been underway since June. The district will allow the leases on the two existing facilities to expire when the new building is ready for occupancy.

The district operates 10 alternative school programs, including alternative and institutional programs for students who do not necessarily find success in regular mainstream schools.

crhyno@www.reddeeradvocate.com

— copyright Red Deer Advocate

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