About three months ago I was the first to break the sad story that the Maxwell Baha’i school in Canada would be closing after 20 years of operation.
Almost immediately, a group of students, faculty, alumni, student families and well-wishers joined together to come up with ideas to save the school. They wrote a proposal that would result in the continuation of the school and sent it to the national administrative body in charge.
Unfortunately, their proposal was rejected and the decision to close Maxwell Baha’i School was reiterated and finalized by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada.
In their letter (see below), the NSA refers to the lack of funds as one of the primary reasons for the decision. As I mentioned in my first story, the fund is really the heart of the matter here.
The Canadian Baha’i community, as well as the US counterpart are undergoing a severe cash crunch. Donations have fallen dramatically over the years and the NSAs have been reluctant or unable to cut back. But as with the decision to close Maxwell, difficult options are being forced on them.
While this specific cutback is a tragic setback for the Baha’i community in Canada (and the world, since Maxwell had international students)… the bigger picture beckons.
Why is the fund persistently low? Are the resources of the Faith being managed as best as they can be? What, if any, is the silent message that the Baha’i community as a group may be sending the administration by reducing their donations?
[Note: bolded text is my own emphasis]
24 January 2008 / 6 Sovereignty 164
The National Spiritual Assembly warmly appreciated the proposal and supporting documents forwarded for consideration at our January 18-20 meeting. You have made extraordinary efforts to meet the National Assembly’s request for additional information related to your December 2007 proposal to continue the Maxwell International School as a Baha’i-inspired project, and have gained substantial support for the school’s continuation.
The National Assembly gave careful and detailed attention to your proposal, including financial resources available to you, recruitment strategies, governance structure and management expertise. We have concluded with regret that your submission is not sufficiently viable to allow the school to succeed in what you describe as a highly competitive international market and ensure the security of the sacrificial investment of the friends in the project. In addition, it still calls for substantial investment on the National Assembly’s part over a number of years, in the form of lost revenues. The funds of the Faith cannot be used to undertake the commitments you would require, nor could the National Assembly accept the implied moral responsibility for the success of the project.
The Assembly is not asking you to revise and resubmit the proposal, as it is not in the best interests of the school or the Faith to prolong this process. Nonetheless, our representatives would be happy to meet with you in due course to answer any questions you may have. In the meantime, should you wish to offer explanation of the National Assembly’s decision to other Maxwell supporters, we would appreciate your using this letter, in order to avoid misunderstanding and promote unity.
With warmest regards,
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHA’IS OF CANADA
Karen McKye, Secretary
cc: National Spiritual Assembly (9)
Board of Directors – Maxwell International School