In 1997, Langley school district opened up the first virtual learning school in B.C., called Lochiel U-Connect for kindergarten to Grade 9.
Lochiel principal Sarban Sangha was in front of the board of education on Tuesday telling them about the school’s successes and the need to grow it to K to 12.
“Lochiel’s future is bright,” said Sangha. Currently there are 200 students who go to Lochiel.
“We teach face-to-face, online and students are home schooled,” said Sangha.
“We offer a parallel path for students who didn’t like traditional schooling.
“Twenty per cent of our students are special needs and an increasing amount of our students have anxiety. They find this type of schooling makes them feel safe.”
The majority of students are from Langley, a few come from Abbotsford, seven from Tri-Cities, some from Surrey.
But the problem is that after Grade 9, students have to find another school to attend.
“Last year, 12 students left the district,” said Sangha. The hope is that the students will stay in the district to finish school with Lochiel. That means more funding dollars are needed from the province.
Sangha said the expansion to Grade 12 would be rolled out over three years, adding a grade each year.
The expansion was met with unanimous support by trustees.
Both trustees Candy Ashdown and Megan Dykeman have children who are students at Lochiel.
Before the vote, they sought advice to make sure they weren’t in a conflict of interest. They were both told they weren’t and could vote on the expansion.
“This program benefits all students and is another one of Langley’s choice schools. It offers flexible learning,” said Dykeman.
“It’s been fascinating to watch this program grow,” said trustee Alison McVeigh.
Currently, there are 22 Grade 9s and that is the maximum the school can handle per grade.
“We can’t grow past the cohort of 22 in order to meet the needs of every student,” said Sangha. But, there is options to discuss growth in the future, he said.
The school is located at 1460 224 St. Students usually go there twice a week.
Lochiel U-Connect Centre offers a unique, blended, site-based/home learning environment for students.
In addition to supporting students on site, some tutorials are offered online via web-conferencing.
Students can log into a class from home.