CBE votes to officially relocate Louise Dean Center to Jack James High School

In a public school board meeting that brought many trustees to tears, the Calgary Board of Education has officially decided to relocate the Louise Dean Center 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 follows 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.

CBE trustees say relocating Louise Dean to Jack James was the only way to continue their partnership with the service agency, Kindred, which wanted to serve a larger clientele outside of the Louise Dean Centre. (Karina Zapata/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 spoke about the decision to relocate the program:

9:48Relocating Louise Dean school

The Calgary Board of Education has decided to relocate its school for teenage moms. We speak with a former student.

Students, parents react

Summer Bergmann is a current student at the Louise Dean Centre. She enrolled in the program when she was pregnant with her son, who is now three years old.

Bergmann says he 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 were all just disappointed.”

She says students agree that their space at Jack James will be too small.

Current Louise Dean Center student, Summer Bergmann, tried attending a mainstream high school after giving birth to her son. She left after two weeks because she said she felt like she didn’t fit in as a teen mom. (Submitted by Summer Bergmann)

“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.”