Archive for Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wallula backers may find savior in new church school

March 30, 2006

Elders with a Leavenworth church have discussed taking on kindergarten through fifth-grade students next year from Wallula Christian School, but the church pastor wants to talk about the elders' decision with Wallula officials before speaking about it publicly.

The Rev. Damian Efta, pastor of Church of the Open Door,, 4800 S. 20th St., Leavenworth said his board of elders met Tuesday, March 28, to discuss whether the church should take on a private church school after Wallula officials last month decided to pare its offerings to preschool classes only.

But, Efta said, before making any public announcement, he first wanted to speak with Teresa Bradshaw, director and kindergarten teacher at Wallula School, to discuss the possibility of moving the school to Efta's church.

Last week, Bradshaw said the school's top choice was to move to Church of the Open Door.

"The parents and teachers really believe in having a Christian school in the Leavenworth-Lansing area," she said.

Prior to this week's meeting of the elder board, Efta said elders had expressed interest on the school.

"Historically, the church has always had an interest in Christian education," Efta said. The church had a school at one time, about 15 to 20 years ago, Efta said, and also offers resources to homeschooling families.

Church of the Open Door has facilities that "could fit the needs of a small Christian school," Efta said, in an addition containing classrooms built about four years ago. He said the classrooms might hold up to 100 or 120 students. Bradshaw said there were 35 students in kindergarten through fifth grade this year at Wallula School.

Before making a decision on the school, Efta said the elders took two weeks to pray about it.

Bradshaw said parents who wanted to keep the school open for K-5 students had looked into other options, such making the school an independent, nonprofit organization, but she said alternative plans were on the backburner until Church of the Open Door made its decision.

"If Church of the Open Door calls, we'll go with that," she said.

Last month, Wallula Christian Church told parents of students attending its school that the elders had decided to cut kindergarten through fifth grade from its school ministry in the fall, keeping only its preschool program for 2006-07.

The Rev. Lance Coffman, lead pastor at Wallula Church, said in February that he and a council of three elders began evaluating all ministries at the church last fall to see how they aligned with the church's vision. The result of that study, which included discussions with the school ministry team, he said, was that the church could best meet the needs of the community by focusing the education ministry on preschool only.

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