Minister to discuss school in Maple Ridge

Only 12 per cent of residents attend post-secondary.

The post-secondary task force will makes its case for a school in Maple Ridge on April 16, when Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Shirley Bond visits town with the leader of the Universities at Shady Grove.

The latter is a post-secondary institute in Maryland where nine universities work together to bring programs under one roof, Coun. Bob Masse said on Facebook recently. Students there can either take courses from one institute or blend different programs.

Masse says a school in Maple Ridge could take the same approach and use B.C.’s post-secondary transfer credit system.

“B.C. now has one of the best post-secondary transfer credit systems anywhere, making this model a great fit,” he said recently on Facebook.

“We’re really looking at the Shady Grove model. That’s nine universities working together,” he added later.

The immediate goal of the task force is establish a business case for a post-secondary institute to serve Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and Mission all of which are on the task force.

Kwantlen Polytechnic, SFU, Douglas College, BCIT, the B.C. Manufacturer’s Association and the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district are also part of the group.

Masse said the Shady Grove model combines classroom, online, evening and weekend schedules to provide everything from certificate, to degree, to post-graduate degrees.

Each of the partner universities offers its own programs and awards its own degrees. Shady Grove provides centralized on-site student, academic and administrative services.

The April meeting will include a public forum, during which people can ask questions.

Should the government agree to fund such a concept, Maple Ridge council already has a possible location identified.

The treed and sloped lot owned by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure just west of Kanaka Way on Lougheed Highway could be a location. It would lower costs because the government already owns the land.

“We can have a facility that will fill whatever the need is there. The participation is genuine.”

Masse pointed out that statistics show that fewer Maple Ridge residents attend post-secondary schools than the provincial average.

The 2013 report from Fraser Health showed that of 21 per cent of B.C. residents have receives a post-secondary education.

In Maple Ridge, that number is 12 per cent.

“I think there’s a significant inaccessibility issue.”

The forum takes place in the Arts Centre Theatre on April 16.

Maple Ridge News