The Seven Summits Centre for Learning held a public town hall last Wednesday night to discuss how the centre will move forward now that the Ministry of Education has altered its funding.
The centre currently operates in partnership with Self Design Learning Community, an independent online learning school that receives funding through the ministry which it then uses to pay for certain expenses at Seven Summits, such as mentor salaries. But moving forward, Self Design will have to pay Seven Summits mentors as if they were only online teachers, and not teachers who spend in-class time with students, significantly reducing their pay.
“[Self Design has] been directed by the ministry that they can no longer fund face-to-face time because they are strictly a Distance Learning (DL) school, so that means that our blended model of having our mentors on salary, where they’re doing face-to-face and they’re doing online stuff, they can no longer fund part of that,” explained Ann Quarterman, operations manager for Seven Summits. “So our funding will drastically reduce through Self Design.”
At the town hall, officials from Seven Summits put forward two different options for moving forward, both of which would have allowed mentors to make at least as much as they make now.
The first option was to become an independent school. That way Seven Summits would receive money from the ministry directly and could still pay the mentors’ salaries. The catch was that the application to the ministry would have been due in less than two weeks’ time, and for the model to work, the centre needed to have at least 55 students enrolled for next year. Because of the tight timeline, Seven Summits set the deadline for having 55 registered students on Friday, April 1, but by the deadline registration was still below that.
Seven Summits is now pursuing the second option, which is to partner with an existing public DL that has a brick and mortar location. If they are successful, the mentor positions will become unionized, and the current mentors will have to reapply for their jobs, which was a concern for some members of the community who attended the town hall. The benefit is that mentors will receive higher salaries in line with union requirements and Seven Summits will benefit from any programming the partner DL already has in place, such as international exchanges.
Officials want to hear from parents and community members about how the centre should move forward. For more information, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.