Principal Marianne Vangoor says the time is right for faith-based schools in Ontario to receive provincial funding.
“I think it’s the right point in time and the right place in our history for this to come about,” says Vangoor of Georgetown District Christian School. “I’m just waiting for it to unfold.”
John Tory of the Progressive Conservatives recently laid out the plans for a faith-based schools funding policy. (See, “Conservatives give details on faith-based funding,” July 23, 2007).
From Vangoor’s perspective Christian schools in Ontario appear to be ready for the funding in terms of being willing and able to be transparent, come under public scrutiny and meet certain standards.
“I’m very confident about that,” she says.
Vangoor is excited about the positive impact government funding could have as it allows more families to choose Christian education. She also sees potential for enhanced support for students with special needs.
While Vangoor recognizes the concerns about other potential ramifications, such as the compromise of Christian values, she has researched other faith-based funding models in Canada and found government-funded schools are typically still “strong and viable.”
“I think the things that attract people to us at present we would be able to maintain into the future if funding would come our way,” she says.
Tony Kamphuis, executive director of the Niagara Association for Christian Education in Fruitland says he is very encouraged by the faith-based funding policy.
“There is the concern about whether we will be able to guard the integrity of the schools but so far I haven’t seen anything that’s really concerning on that front,” says Kamphuis. “I think everything so far is open for negotiation and that’s really important, that we have the chance to participate in that process.”
He adds it will be important for people who support choice in education and faith-based education to “step up and be counted and be involved.”
The Conservatives plan to add $800 million to public education and give faith-based schools the same funding as Catholic schools if elected October 10. The faith-based funding policy, subject to legislative approval, should be fully implemented in the fall of 2010, according to Progressive Conservative leader John Tory.