The Board of Directors of SMS has been fielding many of your questions and concerns over the past weeks regarding the transition from Associate School Status to Certified Independent School (CIS) Status. We wish to address some of the most frequently asked questions:
- “It was so much work and effort by community leaders to become an Associate School.”
Masha’Allah many individuals in this community campaigned hard for SMS to become an Associate School and their contributions will not be forgotten by Allah (SWT) or this community. However, at the time when community leaders put in countless hours to try and become an Associate school, CIS status did not exist. The other designation was called Qualified Independent School which meant that we would receive only 50% of funding compared with 80% that an Associate School could get. With CIS, we get the same funding as an Associate School. If there was a CIS option back then, which gives us the same funding that Associate Schools get, it is likely that CIS would have been chosen instead. It is the logical choice for a faith-based school to choose independence.
- “My fees will go up.”
There is no financial impact on becoming CIS. The funding will remain the same, and Tuition fees will not go up for the parents because of this decision.
- “How will you find Qualified teachers? This is impossible.”
We have been reassured by many stakeholders that there is a talented pool of qualified teachers who currently do not have permanent contracts with the school divisions. We hope that our current teachers stay with us, especially since we are matching SPSD pay, but if some teachers leave and positions open, we look forward to new talent and energy coming to our school.
- “There is not enough time to transition.”
We do have enough time. The main thing that needs to be done is to hire qualified teachers. The Ministry of Education will provide administrative manuals and support. We contract a third-party HR organization that is helping us with an official governance plan and structure, and they also help us write our employee contracts. A transition committee will be formed, and we ask anyone who is interested in helping with the transition to contact us. We want the engagement of this community and the skills and expertise that many of you have.
- “How could you do this without consulting the parents.”
There was a meeting with the parents in December 2022 conducted over zoom to discuss CIS designation. It is noted that this meeting was not well attended. However, the parents that did attend were generally supportive of the transition.
We recognize though based on feedback that there has been a communications gap and that the announcement took many parents and community members by surprise. We can only take this moment to learn and do better.
- “What about the principal and teachers?”
Principal Hajinoor, VP Charlene and teachers are valued members of our school community. They will be offered contracts that match SPSD rates if they choose to stay with us and continue leading the school.
- “We will lose services provided by SPSD such as resources, speech therapy, counsellor, and school psychologist.”
Currently, SPSD provides these services but they charge SMS for this. When we become CIS, we will continue to pay for these services by contracting a speech therapist, psychologist, and school counsellor. Please be assured that these services will continue to be provided to our children.
- “You are trying to destroy the school.”
Six out of nine board members have children who attend SMS. Another two board members have children who recently attended or graduated from SMS. One of the Board members has seven of his children graduated from Misbah School and two on the waiting list. The Board cares deeply about the school. We are parents like you. We made this decision because we believe it was the best decision for this community. In addition to protecting our Islamic values from growing Western influences, being independent allows us to grow the school and move forward. The best schools in the country and around the world are typically private independent schools. By being an independent school, all employees and teachers are held accountable directly by parents.
- “Independence Affects Zoning and School Location.”
The school will remain at its same location and there will be no effect on zoning because of the CIS Status. Due to the growing wait list and high demand for an Islamic School, the Board is looking into a new bigger building that can accommodate the needs of Saskatoon’s growing Muslim population.
- “How will the Board be held accountable for its decisions without SPSD oversight?”
The SMS Board is elected and held accountable by SMS parents and members. SPSD has no oversight responsibility on the Misbah Board.