Don't mix education and profit

by Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 05/97) - Don't mix education and profit.

That's the lesson Yellowknife Achievement Centre Ltd., owner Katherine Tompkins said she learned from running Yellowknife's only private school.

The company is insolvent and the short-lived school closed.

"The need was there," said Tompkins, who came to the take with bachelors degrees in psychology and education and a masters in adult education.

"We had excellent results -- results we could prove. Our service was successful," she said. "I know this was a valuable service."

Tompkins opened the school in March 1995, offering adult education skills.

The school served not only adults looking to upgrade but also youths with learning and behavioral problems. Bright students looking for a challenge also used the school, Tompkins said.

Last year, the company was accredited a private school offering full-time enrolment for grades 6 to 10 and tutoring.

What was missing was government funding, Browning Smith Inc. said in its report to creditors.

In June, Browning Smith, an Edmonton firm, was named trustee under Yellowknife Achievement Centre's proposal to creditors. The proposal was filed with Browning Smith under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

The school did receive some government funding for younger students but start-up costs and rent put the business on its heels -- a position it was unable to recover from -- said Tompkins.

"By the second and third year there was good enrolment, but it was too late."

The centre was in competition with Aurora College, the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre and the Native Women's Association.

Competitors had government funding and support, said Browning Smith.

Creditors of the school will meet Nov. 19 at Avery Cooper & Co. in Yellowknife to vote on whether or not to proceed with the proposal on the liquidation of assets.

Under the plan, Tompkins would pay off creditors from sale of assets.

Browning Smith said acceptance of the proposal would provide a higher recovery for unsecured creditors than would occur in bankruptcy.

Rejection of the proposal will result in automatic bankruptcy with assets liquidated by the trustee. Such a move would generate fees leaving creditors with fewer cents on the dollar.

Assets are estimated at $81,803. Liabilities are estimated at $137,165.

Key to paying creditors will be the sale of the school's Pathfinder Learning Systems education program and the dozens of educational books that complement the program.

Pathfinder, an educational package designed by teachers and business, identifies where an individual's learning curve ended in numerous areas. Educating is then tailor-made for the individual.

Prior to starting up the school, Tompkins ran Tompkins and Associates, an education consulting firm. She is now attempting to restart that business.

And the achievement school may some day resurface as a private society. That move may open up new funding avenues.

Three teachers employed at the centre went on to other jobs. One is teaching, while two are supply teaching and waitressing, Tompkins said.