TERRE HAUTE —
After 36 years in operation, Community Christian School will close its doors after the current school year ends.
The reasons are “mostly financial,” said Cathi Myers, the school’s principal for 13 years. “I’m heartbroken.”
The children who attend the school “we love and care about deeply, and the families are like our own families,” Myers said.
Community Christian, 2000 N. 13th St., has 42 students and 13 staff members. It offers pre-school, pre-kindergarten and grades K-5.
The school has been housed rent-free at Maplewood Christian Church.
According to Myers, attendance at the church has declined, as have offerings. “That means the amount of money they have to give to us and to pay for expenses we incur has declined,” she said.
The church then asked the school to assist with the expenses of operating the building. “Because our enrollment has declined, we have no financial reserves,” Myers said. “We had nothing to give them.”
The school has had its own financial challenges to deal with, including declining enrollment, which once was about 140 students.
“We’ve done everything we can to cut expenses,” Myers said. Some people were laid off, and others who left were not replaced. The school also suspended health insurance for employees.
“There was nothing left to cut except teachers,” she said. “We are not willing to do that. It would compromise academics, and we are not willing to go there.”
The Community Christian school board made the tough decision last week that “the best thing for us would be too close,” Myers said. Parents were given letters last week.
The school year ends May 22.
“It’s been pretty hard,” Myers said. “There have been a lot of tears and people asking what are we going to do. We don’t have answers yet. We’ll figure it out going forward.”
She attributed declining enrollment to a number of factors, including the economy as well as an increase in the number of pre-school and pre-kindergarten programs in the community.
Also, Community Christian offered a full-day kindergarten program before it was offered district-wide in Vigo County schools. “We had a lot of kids brought to us because we had full day kindergarten,” she said.
Now that a full-day program is offered throughout Vigo County elementary schools, “We’ve lost some of those students,” she said.
Joe Craft, office administrator and worship leader with Maplewood Christian Church, said, “We’re very disappointed and upset about it [school closing], but something had to give.”
Originally when the school opened, “There were several churches in our community who were funding and supporting it,” he said.
That support has dropped off in several instances, he said. “We still have one or two churches that do financially support the school.”
Maplewood found itself “trying to fill that financial need ourselves,” he said.
He noted it’s an inner city church that also has been affected by the downturn in the economy.
The school has been dropping in numbers and “teachers have been trying to find ways to cut back. We’re at a point where if we cut back more, those cuts will diminish the school’s ability to do the outstanding job they’ve done year after year” in delivering a quality education, Craft said.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.