Red Deer’s first registered, tuition-based private school is now open and waiting for students.
As of this month, First Steps & Beyond Inc. can now teach Grades 1, 2 and 3. So far there are no students enrolled in those grades.
First Steps began the registration process with Alberta Education in March and received its private registered school designation in June.
“It’s a whole new mindset for Red Deer parents. It’s going to take some time to make people aware that this option is available for them,” said Lynne Harris, First Steps owner and director on Tuesday.
She said students can enrol at any point during the school year.
First Steps, located at 4 910 59th St., started six years ago with a pre-school program.
Full-time classes, including kindergarten through to Grades 3, cost $920 per month.
The school currently has a total of 50 students in its pre-school and pre-kindergarten programs, and five students enrolled in kindergarten. Students come from Red Deer, Blackfalds, Penhold and Lacombe.
Harris said as a private school, First Steps does not fall under the jurisdiction of any school division or district.
“I have control over the policies. I have control over the curriculum as long as we meet Alberta Education’s learning outcomes. I do not need a board. There is just myself and my staff that make the decisions for our school, for our children.”
She said expansion to become a private school has always been part of the vision for First Steps where there is a maximum of 12 students per class and an accelerated focus on reading, writing and math.
She said students must also meet the school’s standard for behaviour.
“We try and foster responsible and accountable behaviour for their work and for themselves and for others. Here if a child deserves a zero, they will get a zero. It’s that whole philosophy that attracts parents.”