An Islamic Group in Calgary has approached Prairie Land Regional School Division with a unique offer to govern a new school.
With hopes of opening September 2020 in northeast Calgary, Prairie Land trustees were tasked with determining whether they wanted to possibly move forward and look more closely at this proposition.
A presentation was made to Prairie Land executives like trustee board chair Holli Smith and Superintendent Cam McKeage about overseeing a Kindergarten to Grade 5 public faithbased school.
It was explained that an office building has already been purchased by the group for the purpose of redesigning it into a proper school building.
They approached the rural school division as they saw the ‘hands-on’ approach and smaller classroom sizes for more interactive learning Prairie Land proudly offers their student base with the goal of having a very ‘highflying’ academic school.
The group ‘dug deep’ into the division’s three-year capital plan and statistics which also drew them to this area.
Trustees, at the regular meeting via Zoom on Tues. March 24, were concerned about the financial impact it would have on the division.
They were told a tuition would be collected which covers an array of costs including upkeep, transportation and the fact it is a faith-based school.
Seventy-five students have already registered to begin school by September and the Islamic board anticipates this number will only rise until the cut off at 250.
More grades would be added on as time goes on which would loosen the cutoff at 500.
Prairie Land also expects this experience to be much like how they handle local Hutterite communities.
Their Muslim religion is not allowed to be taught all day, every day but hand-selected religious teachers will be hired for those particular classes.
The Prairie Land board, in recent times, has been focusing on ‘outside of the box’ ways to remain viable as numbers are dropping across the division.
With this new school, it would boost numbers for them but trustees do believe the community will have mixed views on the subject as it can become a contentious issue.
Trustees agreed at the end of the discussion to continue pursuing the idea as to what the Islamic group’s expectations are and have financial statements be made available to help make a decision.
“I’d like to say I’m not a yes or no, I just – to pursue the idea and then get all the numbers and stuff in front of us so we can all make the right decision,” said Youngstown Trustee Scott MacPherson.