Christian school plans expansion

Oak Harbor Christian School has a growing problem that a new building will solve.

School officials saw a 25 percent increase in enrollment this year and are expecting a similar increase in attendance next school year.

“We’ve been growing at a pretty healthy clip,” said Clark Donnell, school administrator for the last two school years.

The sharp increase in attendance has left students and faculty crammed for space. A faculty lounge and the computer room had to be converted into classrooms to accommodate the 250 students that represent 26 different churches in the area.

To solve their space problem, Christian School leaders plan to build a 7,500 square-foot building that will provide six additional classrooms and offices.

Donnell said the school is constructing a pre-engineered building that will be similar to adjacent buildings on its five-acre lot on Whidbey Avenue.

“The project is expected to cost approximately $600,000 and three quarters of that money is raised,” Donnell said.

He added that several local businesses and volunteers helped defray the costs through donating some material and offering to help with construction.

Before construction can begin, the school has to obtain a conditional use permit from the city.

Even though the property has been used as a school for the past 65 years, part of the property is zoned residential, which requires the special permit.

Public comment is being accepted on the project and a public hearing is scheduled for April 1 before the Board of Adjustment.

Donnell doesn’t see any problem in attaining the permit because of how long the property has been used as a school.

The new building would be the first built on the property since the 1980s when the gym and one of the classroom buildings were constructed.

Donnell attributed the enrollment increase to better communication with the community.

“It was more of a case of letting the community know that the school was here,” Donnell said.

In promoting the school, he highlights the school’s academic achievement. He said that the school’s scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills is consistently higher than the national average.

Construction on the new building is expected to begin in April and to be complete in time for the beginning of the school year in September.

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