College talks up campus tender
WARWICK’S Christian College has hit back at comments allegedly made by a member of the Slade Lives Again (SLA) group on the Channel 9 news about the school’s tender for the Slade campus.
CEO of Christian Community Ministries (CCM) – the organisation which provided resources for Christian schools – John Lyndon said he did not see the interview but it was relayed to him by someone from Warwick.
“It was inferred, I think, or I was told they (SLA) questioned why you would give it to a school with only 50 kids,” he said.
But SLA vice-president Margaret McKinnon said there were no such comments and that was not the attitude from the group’s quarter.
“I have no idea where that came from, we have made no reference to other tenders,” she said.
Mr Lyndon said CCM had shied away from talking to the media about its tender but it wanted to get its name out there to let the community know what it intended to do with the campus if its tender was successful.
“We will use it as a school and use it for a prep to year 12,” he said.
Warwick Christian College started with seven students, five years ago but enrolments had grown to nearly 50 this year.
“We have a track record of growth, we will have eight schools soon with one starting in Cooktown next year,” Mr Lyndon said.
“We started in 1999 with one school and 50 students, now we have eight schools and 3300 students.”
He said financially the organisation was in a good position to take on the purchase.
“We started with half million dollars of assets and we now have $74 million worth of insured buildings and that doesn’t even include property.”He said the reason the school was looking at Slade was because of a projected rapid growth in enrolments, with an estimated 250 students by 2016 and 450 by 2019.
He said CCM purchasing the campus was a perfect solution to keeping the site in the hands of the community and using it for its original intended purpose – an educational facility.
Mr Lyndon said he appreciated what SLA wanted to do with the campus but was concerned if its tender got through and the business plan didn’t succeed, the campus would have to be sold off anyway.
“It’s idealistic and it is unrealistic,” he said. “They have started a registered company for the sole purpose of getting this tender but we have 12 years of solid trading experience. We turn over $30 million a year; we know how to run schools.”
“We have a lot of concerns the community is not being told the real story of the financial impact, it’s just not feasible.”
“I am absolutely confident we can make it work, it would be Slade’s highest and best use as a school but we are absolutely committed to using it as wider community use,’ he said.
Mrs McKinnon said CCM purchasing the campus was a solution but she didn’t see it as a long-term one.
She said SLA was confident it could make the campus into a profitable business.
“We are going to rely on the council for the first two years whereby we will need that time to generate interest,” she said.
“We don’t have a big bucket of money to bring to this to tender but we have made no secret of that.
“The whole point is we will need the council to be our umbrella for the first two years, working in partnership.
She said after that, the group would apply for funding from Regional Development Australia.
“They have said the format we are proposing is exactly the type of project they enjoy funding,” she said.
“And funding can be up to $5 million dollars.”
Mrs McKinnon said since SLA had started promoting Slade, the income had increased by 109 per cent and costs had only increased 42%.
“The Slade property will pay its way and it will also run at a profit.”