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Niagara schools consider joining efforts

Written on April 4th, 2008

Would operate under a single board

More schools in the Niagara region may be uniting to operate under a single board with the view that they can provide more effective and resourceful Christian education if they work together.

The Niagara Association for Christian Education (NACE) was formed in 1999 with two schools, John Knox Christian School in Fruitland and Covenant Christian School in Smithville.

NACE is now in conversation with several neighbouring Christian schools about the possibility of creating a single school board to operate more schools.

“Some of us, including the committee that did this research, believe (this move) would make us more effective at promotion and more consistent in our messaging,” says Tony Kamphuis, executive director of NACE.

“Rather than a bunch of schools each spending their few hundred dollars on promotion, we could pool those resources and be more intentional and professional about it.”

The membership of each school association will vote on the proposal this month.

Like local Catholic and public schools, the John Knox and Covenant schools have experienced a drop in student numbers in recent years, according to Kamphuis.

NACE has implemented several strategies with the goal of ultimately turning the trend around. Hopes are high that collaboration among the two NACE schools as well as additional schools will bring results.

The organization is also working on a number of other activities to recruit new families, some of which have been in place for years.

Strengthening relationships with area churches and ensuring the schools are highly visible in those settings has been a key activity.

The organization also aims to empower parents to be champions and promoters of the schools. During recruitment season the executive director sends out e-mail bulletins to current families about what the schools have to offer. Each bulletin focuses on an item of interest for families. School safety and quality of education are some examples of those items. The idea is to give families specific information that
they can use in their casual conversations with their contacts.

“As they talk about these with their friends and acquaintances, they are a little more empowered to address the questions that come up,” says Kamphuis.

Kamphuis points out that research shows that since the average adult is exposed to more than 1,000 pieces of advertising every day, the conversations with people they know are more credible and trustworthy for them.

NACE is also working on a number of ways to make its website more effective for potential new families. As Kamphuis says, parents looking into Christian education in today’s culture will most likely use the web for their research.

Learn more about NACE. Visit www.nace.ca.