CBC Offers Additional Insight into Decision to Close

Post a Comment » Written on March 15th, 2007     
Filed under: News
STRATHMORE, ALBERTA (March 15, 2007) – Covenant Bible College needed a dramatic increase in student applications and donations, if it were to remain open, according to a new letter posted to the school’s website by Acting President Paul Lessard.

Lessard hopes the letter, which also includes several graphs detailing recent trends, will help people better understand the need for closing the school. He says the board believes closing the school May 31 to be a “wise and prudent stewardship decision.”

If the school did not close, the school might not be able to pay its creditors, Lessard explains. CBC currently has an operating deficit of $1.2 million and is carrying $4.035 million in building-related debt, Lessard writes. By selling the properties in Canada and Colorado, the school has “a reasonable hope of retiring all debt and paying all creditors,” the letter states. To continue operating, Lessard adds, “we run an unacceptably high risk of burning through what little equity we could have after these sales.” The school will seek to sell the Ecuador campus, too, but Lessard writes that selling the property may be difficult.

CBC would need 50 percent more applications “just to have considered remaining open on either campus,” Lessard writes. Enrollment has declined steadily over the last four years, “all to reinforce the hard truth that even though we have been in contact with more prospective students, fewer are choosing CBC.”

Lessard says school officials looked at many options in an effort to keep CBC open, including operating just one school, but nothing proved financially feasible. “The cost per student this year figures at just over $22,000, while the projected cost per student if we ran one campus with a class of 45 would be over $29,000. That would be a three-fold increase in actual student cost over nine years of operation,” he explains.

Operating one campus also “would require between $500,000 and $700,000 )Canadian funds) in donations (depending on the campus), which is almost twice what is expected for this year,” Lessard adds. That amount likely would be needed in the following year, depending on the sale of properties. Despite financial appeals and discussions with major donors, donations were running 37 percent behind the 2005 levels as of December 31.

According to the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), enrollment at Bible colleges in Canada has dropped precipitously over several years, paralleling the decline at CBC. Dr. Larry McKinney, former ABHE executive director, said last year that schools traditionally considered as Bible colleges have transitioned to schools with general liberal arts curriculums. Only a handful of schools across the United States and Canada offer a discipleship program such as CBC, and those were experiencing declining attendance.

Lessard says he believes new methods of discipling young people can be found. “I have come to believe that while the current form has outlived its effectiveness (and indeed I think the Bible College movement in general is in its twilight), that our mission is still relevant and necessary,” he says. “I think we can find a much more cost effective and culturally impacting way to grow the same kind of pragmatic, caring, Biblically literate Christian with greater attention to ethnicity, environmental and global concerns.”

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