A landlord-tenant dispute forced Concordia High School in Edmonton to close its doors, say school officials.
Officials at the Christian school said in a news release Monday morning they were told Aug. 13 their lease with the Eminata Group was terminated and would not be renewed, calling it "unanticipated development."
However, Drew Lawrenson, vice president and general counsel for the Eminata Group, said the lease was ended when the Concordia board said the school was closing.
"We were advised by Trevor Johnson, chair of the CHS board of governors, that the Concordia High School was preparing to close," Lawrenson said. "They were insolvent and they would not be continuing on for the 2012-2013 school year."
Lawrenson said he thanked Johnson for the notice and ended the lease.
Later Monday, Johnson admitted the school had fallen into a "precarious" financial position, which he blames, in part, on the Eminata Group.
Building needed repairs, said board chair
Substandard conditions in the school's dormitory led to 20 students leaving the school, he said.
The school also incurred costs for necessary renovations to the building that the landlord had promised to pay for, said Johnson.
Johnson said he was negotiating with Lawrenson for the continued operation of the school on Aug. 13th when he was told "everything was off the table and they were walking away."
Lawrenson said the Eminata Group has always supported Concordia High School.
"We regret the closure," he said. "I've been working closely with Trevor now for about eight months now since their initial default, under their lease, back in January."
Concordia leased the building on an "as is" basis, said Lawrenson.
"I know that they would like to point to the premises, but the enrolments tell a different story," he said.
School lacked students
Johnson admitted the number of students registered for the fall semester was 39, far from the 100 quoted by the school's spokesperson earlier Monday.
As well, only 12 staff members are affected, not 20 as CBC News was told earlier.
In the news release, school officials said the lease termination gave them no time to find another location for the start of the school year, leaving them with no option but to close.
"Every possible solution to this challenge has been researched and exhausted in efforts to locate a new facility prior to the start of the academic year in order to continue school operations," said Johnson in the release.
"There is simply not enough time to find another feasible option."
Concordia High School has been in existence for 90 years.
Kary Williams, a former student at the school, said he's sad that such a gem is gone.
The school had about 150 students when he attended.
"You are going to school with about 50 people that you get to know really, really well," he said. "You don't get an experience like that anymore, with small classes like that."
The high school is not associated with Concordia University College, which will resume classes on Sept. 5.