After transplanting its roots from Vancouver to Richmond last year, a school focusing on special needs students is looking to grow its enrolment numbers.
Glen Eden Multimodal Centre had been located in Vancouver since 1984 and enjoyed many years of operation until a drop-in government funding three years ago forced the school to lower its operating costs and find more affordable premises.
Funding from the province's Community Link grant, worth $220,000 annually, was reduced.
"That money was used for extra things that tuition did not cover," said Leanne Martin, whose 12-year-old daughter has been at the school for the past four and a half years.
Martin - a board member of the school, who now organizes the majority of its fundraising efforts - said the grant was cut in half in 2010. And in 2011, it was discontinued.
"We relied on that pretty heavily, so last year we were forced to leave our Vancouver site and had students in a temporary location."
The school almost shut its doors around that time, but an anonymous donor stepped forward after publicity about the school's plight was raised and provided the bulk of a $258,000 donation. "That literally saved the school," Martin said, adding, "We see kids with all sorts of special needs, from autism to behavioural issues, and everything in between."
Many of Glen Eden's students are excluded from the public education system due to medical or emotional challenges, and the school is their only option, Martin said.
Thankfully for the students and their families, this past school year, Glen Eden was able to find a space at Fraserview Church to continue offering classes. "Now, we've just moved the students into a new school facility on Vanier Place across from Cambie secondary school," Martin said.
The shift to a more permanent spot has helped enrolment reach 16 students, and hopes are the new space that can accommodate 30 will be full for the coming school year.
Accreditation by B.C.'s Ministry of Education provides special needs funding for each student. But the hole left by the cancelation of its government grant will continue to require several fundraisers each year.
Part of that is the Growing and Going Places gala planned for Nov. 16 at the Best Western Abercorn Inn, where Sonia Beeksma from Global News will emcee the event, and Variety's Got Talent! winner from 2011 Shylo Sharity will perform. Tickets are $75 each or $675 for a table of nine. For more information about the event, purchase a ticket or make a donation, call 604-821-1457.
Much of the money raised will go towards the school's current renovations at the new location, as well as some new classroom equipment.
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