Cornerstone Christian Academy receives accreditation
Cornerstone Christian Academy in Kingman has received accreditation from Alberta Education to operate as a private school. Parents can now register students and doors will open on Sept. 4 for the new school year. Supplied
Cornerstone Christian Academy will live on as a private institution.
The academy's society received approval for its request for accreditation from Alberta Education last week giving the school one month to hire teachers and secure equipment and resources for the school year which starts on Sept. 4.
For society chairperson Deanna Margel, that is a foothill they can climb after scaling the mountain they just overcame.
"We're very relieved. We were certainly hoping that they would give us the accreditation because we've been an existing school for 32 years, for them not to give us accreditation would have been very strange, but it was pushed very late," said Margel.
The school got its start as a private academy in 1986, but joined with the Battle River School Division in 2008. It appeared to be a strong relationship until the end of the 2016-17 school year when it fell apart over the use of a particular bible verse from the school's Vision and Purpose document which was being updated at the time. The scripture was from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, which states "Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
BRSD viewed the use of this passage as a violation of the Education Act, and while the society agreed to drop the verse an email from then BRSD president Laurie Skori to Margel turned the issue into one over censorship.
The CCAS went public and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms came on board as their legal counsel. At the end of the 2016-17 school year BRSD voted to end the working agreement, setting in motion a 363-day transition period where the two sides were able to continue to work on negotiations.
Other issues came to ahead including a communications policy and the role of the society within the academy.
When the JCCF started a court action to overturn the vote to end the relationship in late December, BRSD, on the advice of their counsel, stopped negotiations.
The school board made it official with a vote on April 26 to end the working agreement with the society.
As such teachers and other administrative staff were given the option to remain with the school division, and many of them took up that offer. As well, much of the resources and technology at the school belonged to the division and has been taken out of the school.
It was not until February when the society received paperwork to start the application process for accreditation, which is why it took until later July to receive approval.
Margel, however, is confident they can replace most of it before the start of the school year. To help in the effort they have started a Gofundme page with a $750,000 goal. As of Tuesday they were at $3,235.
"There's a program called computers for schools in Alberta that we've applied to … and we'll probably have to replace Chrome Books and some other technology, but that's all being looked at," said Margel.
The academy will operate as a K-12 school on a four-day week schedule form 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., but Margel is unsure of how many students will be registered. There were 171 students from across the region last year that went to the school. As a private school with a tuition of $2,500 per student to maximum of three tuitions per family those numbers will likely take a hit. The school is also looking at other funding models for families through work in kind or potentially some kind of funding from local churches for students. Margel said they put their application through to Alberta Education with a base of 80 students for enrolment. The number of students will determine how many teachers are needed.
Funding for a private academy is different from the public stream, they receive no money for transportation and a minimal amount for facilities and operation, and only 70 per cent of the funding per student that public schools receive, which works out to about $4,500 per student.
"In reality a public school student gets about $13,000 when you combine the operations and maintenance, transportation and student funding," said Margel. "It's really only less than half when you combine the separate pots."
There is no deadline to register for the school, though Margel says the sooner the better so they can properly staff the school. Registration can be done through their website at cornerstonekingman.ca.