The Rocky Christian School Society will be taking part in a vote to determine if they want be the second such school to join the Wild Rose Public Schools division.
The Wild Rose Public Schools board has already voted in favour of supporting the inclusion of the school as an alternate program within the division during their meeting Jan. 26. This is not a new situation for the school, which has been providing Christian education in Rocky Mountain House since 1970.
The decision will now be up to a vote by the over 200 community members that are currently part of the Rocky Christian School Society.
The school’s society held a vote to join the division about eight or nine years ago, said school principal Rob Duiker. The society needs to vote 75 per cent in favour of joining the division to go forward but were only a few votes short during the first attempt. Duiker added the situation was brought up again about three years ago and a committee was formed to start the process once again.
“Every since the first vote the interest has always been around,” said Duiker. “In general I expect a lot of people will be in favour of joining the school division but there are people that are strongly in favour on both sides of the issue.”
The school division already has one Christian school in its stable as Drayton Christian School joined in 1994 and was one of the first Christian schools in the province to join a public school division.
“This is a culmination of a year of work between the school and the division,” Wild Rose superintendant Brian Celli said. “We are guardedly optimistic and it was something our trustees looked at and agreed with.”
Celli added they are sensitive to the faith component of Rocky Christian and their plans, if the school does join the division, will “benefit the students and teachers.”
“We would like to do a better job of taking care of our teachers salaries as they are making two-thirds of what public schools teachers make. Another reason it would be good is that many people find our tuition costs are prohibitive. It would also give more exposure to our school with an opportunity for more students to have Christian-based education,” Duiker said.
The school has seen their numbers decline as at their peak in 1990, they had over 200 students. Now the school sits at just over 160 students.
Duiker said there is also an advantage through better programming. Joining the division would allow for a priority of professional development and further educational opportunities for staff and students. There would be benefits by also sharing resources and building relationships with other schools within the division, said Duiker.
“We do want to trust we can provide a distinctly Christian education in this model as well,” said Duiker.
Celli said the integration would happen for September 2012. He added the division will also be open to continue discussions if the vote does not pass.
“We feel this would be a great benefit to the students as it will allow us to pool our resources,” said Celli. “Reducing the tuition fee would be a very likely possibility and there is more opportunity to partner on other resources.”