Milton Christian School (MCS) has grown from 11 to 86 students in six years of operation, and this fall will move into the town’s former library building providing the school with much-needed space and room to grow.
The school has been operating out of Southside Community Church and taken over every “square millimetre” of the property, says principal Mike Van Slingerland.
“They have been amazing to us. We wouldn’t have been able to exist without their help,”he says, noting the church provided the use of their property “tremendously” below market rate.
Renovations on the library building began May 5, and Van Slingerland says they hope to have 105 students enrolled at the school when it opens this fall. With capacity for 160 students, the school is looking to double its enrolment in the next five years, he says. The current enrolment growth has been entirely through word of mouth.
He notes with Milton being Canada’s fastest growing community it’s difficult to find suitable facilities for a school with limited institutional zoned property.
When the town of Milton built a new library and cultural arts centre the former 17,000-square-foot Milton Public Library closed and became available for lease through an RFP process.
After going through the proposal and interview process the town council unanimously voted on Dec. 19, 2011, to award MCS the ability to lease the property. The school is entering a five-year lease with a five-year renewal option.
Working with an architect, the design renovations include seven large classrooms, a gymnasium, an assembly area, large foyer, washrooms, parking lot and playground.
“Everybody is just absolutely thrilled,” says Van Slingerland of the move.
He says the teaching staff has been going the extra mile at the current facility.
“The kids absolutely love coming to school. We don’t offer all the bells and whistles, what we offer is a very focused excellence in academics and a very strong focus of Godly instruction.”
The Milton Community Resource Centre, an organization that runs a variety of nursery and day care programs, approached MCS about partnering to operate a preschool for three-year-olds out of the basement of the building.
MCS will be subleasing the space to the Milton Community Resource Centre. The school will offer the Christian components of a prekindergarten program, while the resource centre will provide the bulk of the programming, says Van Slingerland.
He adds there are other organizations lining up to rent space from the school, including two churches that will use space on weekend mornings.
“A big part of the philosophy of our school has always been a very evangelical component that we really want to be a light to our community,” says Van Slingerland, noting it’s “amazing” how the secular community is responding.
“This whole process has definitely generated a lot of attention and buzz for the school. I hope that just continues and that excitement and that buzz can be somehow turned into support for the project.”
Van Slingerland says the school’s leadership sees MCS having three life cycles; the infancy stage, rooting phase, and permanent home phase. He says the move marks the beginning of the rooting phase for the next five to 10 years.
“As God provides we will enter into our third phase at some point, whether that’s five years from now or 10 years from now,” he says.
The school will be launching a $1.2-million capital campaign to raise funds for the project. Any funds left over from the project will be seed money for the school’s permanent home.
To bridge the gap between the capital campaign funds raised and current expenses, Van Slingerland says the school is looking for private lenders.
To learn more, contact MCS at 905-878-0550 or e-mail principal(at)miltonchristianschool.com.