There was excellent news last week when the provincial Minister of Education Rob Fleming announced that a new Cowichan Secondary School will be built, with a projected opening date of 2023.
The drive to get a new high school in Duncan has been in the works since at least 2004, when community leaders envisioned a new school partnering with a new Vancouver Island University Campus (long since built) and the existing Cowichan Community Centre in a grouping that was to be called Cowichan Place.
Now, it appears that the final piece of the Cowichan Place puzzle will finally be put in place.
Further good news was the funding formula for the new school: $80 million to come from the province, and $2.2 million to come from the school district. While this is still a significant chunk of money that the local board will be responsible for, it is a tiny part of the full cost of the new school. During the extended period of trying to get the school project off the ground, it was by no means always a foregone conclusion that Cowichan would have to come up with such a comparatively small amount. We recall well the talk of selling the old school property to raise necessary funds. This now seems to be off the table, at least in the immediate future, with plans announced to use the old Cow High building as temporary classroom space, once the new school is built, to house students from other schools while those schools receive seismic and other upgrades.
Learning is very different now than it was 69 years ago, when Cow High was built. Computers in such learning institutions were not even a glimmer in the eye yet. Rote education in regimented classrooms was very much the norm. It’s a new world now, and we expect the new school to reflect that.
The completion of the Cowichan Place area will be a boon for the entire community, functioning as an incredible centre for learning for all ages in many different fields. It was a great Merry Christmas for the Cowichan Valley.