Calgary Islamic School joins Palliser

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Two campuses add 1,300 students, 100 staff to division

CALGARY — Palliser Regional Schools, the Muslim Council of Calgary and the Muslim Community Foundation of Calgary have entered a partnership to bring the Calgary Islamic School’s two campuses into Palliser as alternative school programs effective the 2015-2016 school year.
Representatives of Palliser, the council and foundation signed the new master agreement for the faith-based alternative programs Wednesday, July 29.
The Akram Jomaa Campus is a kindergarten through Grade 12 school serving about 900 students in 2014-2015 at 2612 37 Ave. NE; the Omar Bin Al-Khattab Campus is a kindergarten through Grade 9 program with about 380 students at 225 28 St. SE.
“The Board of Trustees has always said the public system is the best place for all students, and this demonstrates our ongoing commitment,” said Palliser Board of Trustees Chair Colleen Deitz. “Through this partnership, we are bringing nearly 1,300 students to all the benefits of Palliser and the public system.”
Students at the Calgary Islamic School will have access to Palliser’s expertise in early learning, literacy, technology integration and other supports. The school has just over 100 staff, 65 of whom are certificated teachers. These teachers will have access to Palliser’s professional development and collaboration programs and instructional supports.
As an alternative program in the public system, students will benefit from additional per pupil funding, including funding for inclusive education and support for special needs, resources the school did not receive as a private institution.
“This is a historic moment for the Muslim community of Calgary and our school,” said Abduljalil Elkadri, chairman of the Muslim Council of Calgary. “We look forward to our partnership with Palliser Regional Schools towards the betterment of Islamic education in Calgary.”
Deitz said discussions with individuals working at or with the schools indicate the partnership will be a good fit in Palliser’s culture of literacy and accountability and will benefit the students of both campuses. The Omar Bin Al-Khattab Campus has a literacy program based on Fountas and Pinnell benchmark assessments, an assessment tool Palliser has adopted division-wide.
She said there will be financial benefits to Palliser from economies of scale related to the increase in enrolment. Those benefits will be shared by all Palliser students through the division’s centralized, needs-based management model.
Another key benefit will be building understanding among students and staff across the diverse Palliser landscape.
“As a trustee, I look forward to learning more about the Muslim community, faith and culture,” Deitz said. “For our students and staff, there will also be opportunities to learn and share, something that will be of value in our diverse society.”
Palliser and representatives from the school’s Muslim leadership have been discussing a potential partnership since late spring.
The Calgary Islamic School was founded in 1992 as a private school. It focuses on academic achievement, leadership and Islamic values and provides students Arabic language class and Quranic studies.
Palliser Regional Schools is a diverse student- and literacy-focused division serving students from Coaldale to Calgary at 15 community schools, eight Christian faith-based schools, alternative programs for Low German-speaking Mennonite students, outreach high schools, 17 Hutterite colony schools and an online school. Anticipated enrolment for 2015-2016 is about 8,100 students.