The governing body of Chatham Christian School (CSS) has a cautious interest in the potential government funding of faith-based schools, according to Vice-principal Scott Beda. “It’s still in the preliminary stages, so I think even though there is an excitement and an interest, there is also a little wariness about what kind of strings will be attached to it, exactly what are the specific details,” says Beda.
Although CSS strives to ensure all of its teachers are accredited, as will be a requirement for government funding according to preliminary reports, Beda says the society wants to ensure it has autonomy when it comes to hiring.
“They want to be able to hire who they want to hire.”
It has also been reported that faith-based schools will be required to comply with the Ontario curriculum for government funding. Beda says CSS should have no challenges in that area.
“My guess is that when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of the curriculum it won’t be a huge change for our school to fall in line with what the Ministry (of Education) guidelines are.”
He points out Chatham secondary school already follows all of the Ontario curriculum guidelines and is visited every second year by Ministry of Education officials for monitoring purposes.
The elementary school doesn’t necessarily have all the same textbooks as those used in the public or Catholic schools but the material covered is the same. It’s just taught from a Christian perspective, says Beda.
The school already takes part in the Grade 3 and 6 standardized testing, another apparent requirement for government funding.
Beda says he expects the funding, should it come through, would lower tuition costs. At present parents can send their children to CSS for about $8,000 annually.
He agrees with those OACS principals who have said the funding would not improve the quality of education their school offers because the programs are already top-notch.
“I think our school provides really good quality of education. We already have a good athletic program, band program, music program … The funds would be used more
directly for lowering tuition and keeping everything in place that’s already established.”
In July Progressive Conservative leader John Tory announced that if elected, former premier Bill Davis would lead a commission to research and provide recommendations for the inclusion of faith-based schools in Ontario’s public school system, according to a press release. (For more information, see “Conservatives give details on faith-based funding,” July 23).