Why host a charter school?
Our prayer book reminds us that as Christ's church, we never exist for ourselves but always "to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ." (BCP, p. 855) I can think of at least three big reasons why us being the incubator of Lafayette Preparatory Academy fits that mission.
1) If we are to bring people to God in Christ and bring Christ's love to the world, we need to be in relationship with the world. - In last Sunday's Gospel, we heard Jesus pray that his disciples might be in the world but not of it. LPA coming to our facility would exponentially increase not only the foot traffic in Christ Church Cathedral but the awareness of the Cathedral in the local landscape. That alone won't bring people into our worshiping and missional community, but it's a big first step.
2) Education is a huge ministry need and reconciliation opportunity in St. Louis ... particularly downtown Public education has been in crisis in St. Louis City for years. LPA is taking on a particularly challenging task ... starting a school that from the start is dedicated to gathering a community of children that cross racial and economic divides. Our support of LPA is support of bringing love and reconciliation to a world whom Christ loves.
3) Christ Church Cathedral cannot survive on its own ... thank God! - We have a $70,000 deficit that we can sustain for no more than three years. I don't think that's bad news. I think that's a clarion call for action, and our relationship with LPA can be part of it. We need to take our own stewardship of this Cathedral seriously, but we also need to know that we cannot survive unless we form symbiotic relationships that are congruent with our mission with the city and neighborhood around us.
If this happens, when will LPA be using the space?
LPA is exploring a two-year arrangement. The 2013-14 school year they will have Kindergarten and first grade. From 2014-15 it will be K-2. They would move to a larger facility for the 2015-16 school year.
What space will be used? How will it be changed?
Nothing is finalized, but what is on the table right now is the 2nd floor Christian Education space being the primary classroom space, with the four classrooms on the East wall being converted to two larger classrooms and the Christian Education "office" being changed into a second bathroom. Schuyler Hall would be used as whole-school meeting space and a lunchroom. The fifth floor offices would be used as school administrative offices and the former bookstore space on the ground floor would be the school front office. Letmar Hall would potentially be used as specialty classroom space in a way that suits the space (e.g. for art and music) but would still be usable by the choir. The gym would also be used for physical education.
The Property Committee, Canon Partridge, and the Sunday School teachers and parents will be consulted as changes are made so that our use of the space is impacted as little as possible. The Cathedral will not be responsible for any expenses and will retain veto power over all changes up to and including paint color. All spaces currently available on Sundays will continue to be available on Sundays.
What are the financial arrangements and how will it be approved?
The wardens and I are currently working with LPA on a structure for a Common Area Maintenance agreement, in which LPA will pay a percentage of our utility, insurance, security and other expenses based on a percentage of square feet used/time used basis. The final agreement will likely be backloaded to the second year of the contract because the school's state funding is awarded at the end of the first year (e.g. year 1 - 10% of CAM, year 2 - 190% of CAM). At no time will CCC pay out of pocket expenses or be responsible for use or fee increases.
Any final contract must be approved by the LPA board, Chapter and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Missouri ... as well as be vetted by the diocesan chancellor.
Why is this important for Christ Church Cathedral?
Pretty much answered that above! As I preached two Sundays ago, whatever Christian values we discern that God is calling us to embody, I am convinced it will be a life lived not for ourselves but for the world ... because that's what the Gospel clearly states.
What do you think?
What do you think of having a charter school use the BTM? What opportunities about this excite you? Are there concerns you have? What other opportunities can you imagine for us to engage the world and let the world engage us?