Parent of students attending Prince of Peace Lutheran School near Chestermere have been on pins and needles waiting for the Rocky View School Board of Trustees to try to come up with another alternative to closing the school.
Now, the board may have done just that, however parents' hopes could be deflated in just 11 days if the owners of the property don't approve a new lease agreement.
At today's (March 7) School Board Meeting, trustees voted to accept SAGE Properties five-year lease agreement that includes an 18-month termination clause. The board's acceptance is subject to it also being approved by SAGE's Directors by March 18th. If for any reason, SAGE fails to do that, the RVS board approved a motion to close the school effective June 30th, 2019.
RVS Board Chair Todd Brand says the board is relieved to have voted to accept, what he calls, a satisfactory lease from SAGE Properties. However, according to Brand, "We still have to consider that SAGE's Directors have yet to approve the lease, that it carries with it an 18-month termination clause and the property owners intend to sell the building, meaning a long term solution is required."
RVS has been leasing the school since 2006 in order to provide an alternative, faith-based program to Chestermere and area students. In 2016 the school's owners, the Lutheran Church Canada Alberta-British Columbia District Church Extension Fund and District Investments Ltd. were granted protection against bankruptcy. The property is now under the management of SAGE Properties whose mandate is to subdivide the property and sell the building.
With RVS’ lease set to expire on August 31st, 2019, the board launched a public consultation in October 2018 to explore the viability of relocating the Prince of Peace Lutheran School program or fulfilling the required process established by the government related to school closures.
“At the will of our stakeholders, we actively pursued a lease to buy us some time to find a permanent home for this alternative program,” said Brand. “Although achieved, given a new school in the City of Chestermere is at least three years out, and considering the space pressures in the Chestermere area, we will begin to reduce the number of students at the school.”
With that in mind, at today's meeting, trustees voted in favour of not allowing any new non-resident students to be accepted at the school.
“Although not ideal, I want our Prince of Peace community to know this decision was very hard for our Board of Trustees,” said Brand. “We spent many hours consulting with the public and even more hours in meetings looking for a solution to maintain the viability of the school, and, at least for the near future, we found one."
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