Ideal School was established in 1972 by teacher Garry Nixon, who was teaching at St. George's School at the time. It was intended to be an independent, alternative high school. The Province reported that "o be admitted, boys and girls must convince Nixon they sincerely want to learn and are willing to work harder than would be required in other schools", and that it would cost $60 a month in fees. Nixon published a job posting in The Vancouver Sun, promising prospective teachers "freedom, fascination and abject poverty". Six teachers comprised the original staff, chosen from a pool of over 60 applicants, and with much lower salaries than what could be expected at a public school. Ideal School was originally housed in the Vancouver Fancy Sausage Factory, on 16th Avenue and Heather Street. The blood gutters had to be cleaned out before the staff and students could move in. Faced with financial difficulties, in 1974 the school approached the Vancouver School Board for economic support.
Once absorbed by the Vancouver School Board, the tuition was removed and teacher salaries were increased. It was temporarily relocated to Sir William Dawson School on Helmcken Street (which closed in 1972, and was used by Ideal and City School, another alternative program, from 1974 to 1977). It was placed under the administration of King George Secondary School, and prospered for two years with help from the school board, that advertised for it to maintain enrolment, reportedly spending approximately $1,700 between 1974 and 1977. In November 1975, a research report released by a member of the Board of School Trustees reported around 100 students and five teachers. It claimed that the students benefited from their experience at Ideal due to freedom to participate in school decisions, dedicated teachers, and low student–teacher ratio, while criticizing the building and the lack of facilities and equipment.
On April 21, 1976, the school board stated that Ideal was to be moved to Lord Byng Secondary School. A parent–student committee was formed to discuss the situation, which presented arguments against the move to the school board, claiming that its independence was necessary to maintain students' individuality and creativity. The committee succeeded in convincing the board to withdraw its decision. On October 4, 1976, a board official stated that the move to Lord Byng was being reconsidered, but the committee succeeded once more in convincing the board against the relocation. However, on December 6, 1976, the board announced their irreversible decision to perform the move before February 1, 1977, as the Dawson School building was considered to be expensive to maintain. Ideal School was to occupy three classrooms at Byng, and students were told that they could either accept the move or be dispersed among Vancouver high schools. On January 4, 1977, Ideal students protested in front of the Vancouver School Board.
It was agreed that the school board would assess Ideal's situation at Lord Byng for six months, and if the accommodation was deemed inadequate, it would be relocated again. Lord Byng and Ideal did not co-exist well, and parents and students wrote complaint letters to the media.
Relocation to the former site of L'École Bilingue Elementary in Shannon Park was considered, but residents of the area disapproved of the presence of a secondary school. Eventually, Ideal was relocated to 855 West 59th Avenue.
In 1995, Ideal Mini School came in first in British Columbia provincial exam results for English 12 and second (the first being University Hill Secondary School) in English Literature 12.
Vancouver School Board budget cuts in 2010 threatened mini schools, including Ideal, resulting in student protests.
Read more about this topic: Ideal Mini School
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