In a public school board meeting that brought many trustees to tears, the Calgary Board of Education has officially decided to relocate Louise Dean Centre to Jack James High School.
Louise Dean Centre, Calgary's program for pregnant teens and young moms, is currently in a 75-year-old building in West Hillhurst.
The plan is to close that location in June 2024 and relocate the program to Jack James that following September.
It will cost the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) $5.6 million to relocate the program to Jack James, compared with a $17-million cost to repair its existing site.
"This doesn't come easy. This comes after a lot of thought and deliberation. It comes after reading hundreds of letters, looking at all the options, asking question after question," said CBE board chair Laura Hack in an interview with CBC.
The expansion of Jack James will include three classrooms, a dedicated exterior entrance, an additional child care space for Louise Dean students and more.
Louise Dean students will be separated from Jack James students, with card access control to their space — but Louise Dean students can choose to participate in Jack James' educational programs.
LISTEN | A former Louise Dean student and a CBE trustee speak about the decision to relocate the program:
Students, parents react
Summer Bergmann is a current student at Louise Dean Centre. She enrolled in the program when she was pregnant with her son, who's now three years old.
Bergmann says she was watching the final decision with a dozen other students in class.
"You could feel the sadness in the entire classroom. It wasn't just my own that I felt," said Bergmann. "We all were just disappointed."
She says students agree that their space at Jack James will be too small.
"We love the program, so if it moves, we will go with it because we love it. But that doesn't mean we want it there."
Hejdi Hodson, a mother of a Grade 10 student at Jack James High School, says this is a decision that will impact hundreds of kids.
She says she's concerned about how the construction over the next two years will disrupt Jack James students.
"I hope it's not going to be a devastating impact on both schools," said Hodson. "I hope that students don't drop out because of this."