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Local private high school closes its doors
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Monday, August 20, 2012 11:10AM MDT
Last Updated Monday, August 20, 2012 6:52PM MDT
Two weeks before Edmonton students were set to hit the books again, dozens of students at a local private high school will have to find new schools.
On Monday, the Concordia High School Board of Governors announced the school is now closed permanently.
“This is the last thing they wanted to do,” Concordia High School spokesperson Erin Stevenson said Monday. “Nobody wants to shut a high school down that’s got 90 years of history.”
In a press release, the board said the school was notified on Monday, August 13 that their partnership and lease agreement with the BC-based Eminata Group had ended – and further negotiations were not an option.
The news comes one year after the high school moved to its last location on 23 Avenue and Saddleback Road, from its previous location on the grounds of Concordia University College.
Trevor Johnson, chair of the CHS Board of Governors, told CTV News the school told the landlord the buildings the school moved into were not up to educational and health code standards.
While repairs were made, Johnson said the school as forced to cover the costs as the company wouldn’t pay.
“From a small school with zero tolerance for debt, that made a major impact within our budget,” Johnson said in a phone interview from Calgary.
Johnson said water leaks were discovered in the dormitory, along with mould and asbestos.
An environmental consulting firm also assessed the facility, costs which were also covered by the school. Johnson said the board brought the findings to the landlord – but no changes were made.
“We lost at least 20 kids from our dormitory program that would not come back and live in conditions like that,” Johnson said.
According to school officials, Eminata Group also tripled their rent, and the school couldn’t keep up.
The board chair said administration had tried to find alternate arrangements, however there wasn’t enough time to find another option before the school year was to begin.
The option of temporarily closing the school for a year to find a new facility was looked at; however that move isn’t possible under the Alberta Provincial School Act.
“This is not a case of a landlord evicting a Christian high school for nonpayment of rent,” Drew Lawrenson with the Eminata Group said.
Lawrenson told CTV News the school’s board told the company the school was preparing to close, and said board chair Trevor Johnson contacted the landlord company on August 13 with the news – citing low enrollment.
“Unfortunately, lease matters aside, the enrollment numbers were not there and Concordia was unable to attract or maintain a student enrollment that would allow any business to continue,” Lawrenson said.
Last year, the school had 73 students enrolled, with 30 living in the school’s dormitory – some of the students were from Netherlands, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Alberta and Northwest Territories.
Concordia High School was celebrating its 90th year, and was Alberta’s only international boarding school.
Lawrenson said he was told about 30 students had enrolled in the school for the 2012-2013 school year.
“Without the right number of students, if the rent was [one] dollar, they couldn’t pay it,” Lawrenson said.
As for Concordia University College, a local college with historical ties to the high school – classes will start September 5.
According to the college, the high school has been independent from the college for more than ten years.
More information can be found online.
With files from Susan Amerongen