College to offer courses in conjunction with school district

Mayor remains firm more post secondary education needed here

Coast Mountain College won’t be reopening its closed campus here but is pursuing course options in conjunction with the school district, says college official Sarah Zimmerman.

That follows after acting college president Justin Kohlman met with District of Houston officials last week in response to a direct request made by the District to advanced education minister Melanie Mark this fall.

Zimmerman said there just isn’t enough interest in Houston and area to support re-opening its campus which was closed in 2017.

But it has been offering skills training courses at Houston Secondary in which students can obtain secondary school as well as post-secondary credit.

One of those programs set for next year will introduce students to a variety of skills while another is aimed at millwright training, Zimmerman said.

“In this circumstance, we can provide an instructor and the curriculum and the school district the space,” she said of the dual credit effort.

There’s also the potential for the college to send out one or both of its two mobile training units, depending upon need.

One, which the college has had for several years, can expand to 1,000 square feet with an emphasis on training in skills such as carpentry and welding.

The second one, which arrived just this fall, has more flexibility to what can be contained inside, said Zimmerman.

“It will be able to be converted to accommodate everything from a gas process operator program to professional cooking,” she said. “It packs up like a big truck and trailer, and then it’s got expandable parts so it becomes a more versatile space.”

The college now rents out of its two buildings here to the non-profit Houston Link to Learning and the district, in the interim, wants it to rent out its second building.

But that’s a complicated process, said Zimmerman. “We would need the permission of the [advanced education] ministry. It is a public asset and it would have to be for some broad-based community use.”

Houston mayor Shane Brienen said he was pleased the college will have a presence here for skills training through the school district.

But he said the District remains firm in its stance that there needs to be more post-secondary offerings here through a campus presence.

“Not everyone has access to Smithers,” Brienen said of the next community where Coast Mountain as a campus. “There are very limited transit opportunities, the timing of transit just doesn’t work for people who have no other means to travel.”