The Cowichan Valley Board of Education voted Tuesday to split Cowichan Secondary into two schools, reported board chair Candace Spilsbury. (Citizen file)

The Cowichan Valley Board of Education voted Tuesday to split Cowichan Secondary into two schools, reported board chair Candace Spilsbury. (Citizen file)

Cowichan Secondary splitting into two separate schools

Starting next fall Cowichan Secondary School students will no longer have two campuses in Duncan.

Starting next fall Cowichan Secondary School students will no longer have two campuses in Duncan.

Candace Spilsbury, chair of the Board of Education for School District No. 79 said Wednesday that the board voted Tuesday night in favour of ending the Cowichan Secondary School dual campus model beginning in the 2018/19 school year.

“Last night the Board of Education voted in favour of a motion to separate Cowichan Secondary School’s James Street and Quamichan campuses, ending the current dual campus model,” Spilsbury said.

All students will not be cramming into Cow High on James Street, however. Students will be split into two individually operated schools, with Grades 8 and 9 attending one campus full time, and Grades 10-12 attending the other, essentially splitting the student body into junior and senior high schools.

The move came after many parents raised concerns about their children having to travel between the two school campuses through an area frequented by drug users.

Spilsbury said there are also operational benefits of having two schools.

“After a period of public feedback in February regarding the opportunity to create two separate schools, the board determined that the safety of students was the top priority and eliminating the dual campus model was the best decision for students,” she said. “We also recognized that there were additional benefits to ending the dual campus model, operationally, professionally, and for student learning. The two schools will now be able to schedule learning in a way that better meets the unique learning needs of each student population. It also means strengthened connections between staff and students, which is particularly important for our vulnerable learners.”

Spilsbury said there is support for splitting the schools from both parents and staff.

“Everyone has worked very hard since the start of dual campus to try to make this model work, and we thank them all for their support and effort,” she said. “We look forwarding to continuing to work collaboratively in support of student learning as we now transition to the new model.”