It is an opportunity not to be missed.
Representatives of the School District 91 Business Company came to make their case to the Fort St. James mayor and council on Wednesday, June 22.
The business company is asking the mayors and councils of the School District 91 (SD 91) area to help them raise the initial capital to create B.C. certified offshore schools in China, which would then make money for the school district and help fund schools within the SD 91.
They need the support of the mayor and council to allow them to borrow the funds from the amount allocated towards the local community from the Northern Development Initiative Trust.
This would mean the community would not have access to those funds until they are repaid by the SD 91 Business Company, which they expect would take five years.
In addition, should there be a problem and the company defaults on the loan, the company and not the school district would be responsible for the money, and the company will have few tangible assets.
However, the long-term benefits could be significant, and a case was made by the representatives.
Keith Playfair, one of the representatives from the School District 91 Business Company, came to promote the proposed project, and the potential benefits to the area and the school district.
Playfair said the schools could generate $2-3 million for the school district, helping provide the little things the district currently can not afford.
“This is an opportunity for the school district to step outside the boundaries of what the government gives them for funding,” said Playfair.
He also said it could create jobs and put more students in our local schools bringing in students from China with the associated exchange program as well, keeping the school district from having to close schools with declining enrollment.
Aarron Sinclair, retained by the company to assist in raising the capital for the proposed project, explained a bit about the structure of the business and how the School Act prevents the school district from directly or indirectly funding the company and also prevents the company from selling shares.
So the school district is the only shareholder in the company, but they can not provide the company with the dollars to start the project itself.
Sinclair explained the affluence of the area where the school would be built, and how the families would be able to afford the high tuition costs which make the venture so potentially lucrative.
The B.C. Dogwood is so valued in China because it would make it much easier for the students to apply to international universities and colleges when they graduated.
“We’re not getting students that can’t afford it,” said Sinclair.
The initial start-up costs to get the schools certified and set up are estimated at $1.5-2 million.
The funds would be borrowed and paid back to the Northern Development Initiative Trust and Community Futures with interest determined by the two organizations over a five year period.
Repayment would begin in November of 2013, with the schools starting in 2014.
The school buildings would be built, owned and maintained by the Chinese education bureaus.