The Rocky View Schools (RVS) Board of Trustees has motioned to proceed with the closure of Prince of Peace Lutheran School after the termination of the school’s lease agreement was announced, effective August 5, 2022.
Initially a five-year lease starting in September 2019, a termination clause stipulated that either party may terminate the lease with 18 months’ notice. After receiving notice the landlord of Prince of Peace is executing their right to terminate the lease, the board decided to proceed with the school closure process without further delay.
According to RVS Superintendent Greg Luterbach, there have been numerous attempts from the government to buy the building on behalf of RVS, and the board has also made offers, all of which were declined.
“We know the option of staying in the building under the same configuration is not possible and so while the term [school closure] sounds harsh, and I totally appreciate that, that’s not the intention,” Luterbach said at the March 18 board meeting. “It is the term of the Education Act to call it a school closure.
“While challenging, I believe we need to start that process immediately, so that we’re able to look at what the options are and discuss that with the community in time for the board to make some decisions, and the board will have to make some decisions.”
Prince of Peace, a Kindergarten to Grade 9 school offering faith-based education, services students in Chestermere, Langdon, east Rocky View County, Calgary, and Airdrie. Originally a private school, the school became part of RVS in 2006 and has been a Christian school of choice since then. The school is located in a church building just east of Calgary’s Stoney Trail E.
By February 12, letters and memos had been sent to the 374 students and 36 staff members of Prince of Peace Lutheran School, asking for patience as the board determines the school’s future.
“Rocky View Schools Board shares in our Prince of Peace families and staff’s disappointment and understand the uncertainty this creates,” stated the board in an emailed statement.
“We are committed to exploring options in a timely manner and to supporting students, families and staff in the transition wherever that takes us.”
According to Ward 1 Trustee Patty Sproule, deciding to close the school was hard because of the “disappointment and sadness that goes with it.”
“This is very sad for the school community. And I feel for them – the loss that they’re starting to process, even now,” Sproule said.
“It is sort of a double-whammy to lose a school and not gain any new ones, so that adds to the disappointment.”
Moving forward, RVS trustees will bring a plan of action to the board planning committee, which will be presented to the public on April 14, when an online zoom community consultation will share information with stakeholders. Additional feedback will be facilitated through an email campaign – the results of which will be presented to the board by April 20.
A final decision regarding the closure timeline will be made tentatively for May 13.
“The sooner we proceed with our planning, the better, so that everyone can consider as many options as possible, and we can get public input, particularly from the parents and entire school community at Prince of Peace,” Sproule said.
Fiona Gilbert, chair of the RVS Board of Trustees, noted the board will need to start the process as soon as possible so trustees can engage with the community, to “work out what is the best next steps for the Prince of Peace community, for those students, as well as for Rocky View Schools as a whole.”
“While [we] do this with a heavy heart, it is absolutely, I believe, what needs to be done at this time to start the process so that we can have the [necessary] conversation and engage stakeholders,” she added.