Written by: Ryan White
CTVNewsCalgary.ca Digital Reporter/Producer
A Calgary school for children on the spectrum hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony at its new location as it prepares to welcome more students.
Janus Academy opened the doors to its school in the 400 block of 33 Street N.E. Thursday that will bring together students from its two existing schools and include space for new children as well.
“It’s extremely urgent for this kind of an education especially for the students that we offer services to,” explained Carlene Chrumka, executive director of Janus Academy. “We have many times have had to turn away as many as 25 families a year, because we just didn’t have the capacity to be able to support those children. So now, with our own facility, we are able to grow and to be able to have those opportunities for families and for students.”
Chrumka says 74 children, mostly with very high or complex needs, currently attend Janus Academy. They hope to grow the school to accommodate upward of 100 students but the process for increasing enrolment will take time.
“The training that has to go on with, not only the student but also the staff that we bring on, is time intensive and very critical to the work that we’re doing, explained Chrumka. “And so we need to do it well when we are growing and so that’s why this will be a staggered grow up to the 100 students.”
The school has a very high staff to student ratio — currently 59 staff members assist the 74 students — and the school would likely need 75 employees when it expands to accommodate 100 students.
Chrumka says the academy offers an essential service to its families, as it’s difficult for the catholic school board and Calgary Board of Education to support these children and allocate the necessary resources.
“They have a very, very difficult time in dealing with the needs of the students. We offer an opportunity for our parents to actually stay working. We don’t call them during the day to say ‘Can you please come and pick up your child because their behaviors are such that we can’t manage them.’ We offer a service that allows parents to go on with their day, to go on with their family life, whatever those needs might be within their family, knowing that their child is safe, that they’re getting a good education, and that they are thriving in a group where their children are doing their very, very best.
“We meet the children where they’re at with their education,” said Chrumka. “We follow the Alberta education curriculum of studies. We modify that so that it fits for our children.”
For more details on the school, visit Janus Academy