PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — For the past five years, a tiny Christian school in Presque Isle has been quietly growing.
Since the nondenominational school was founded in September 2006, it has doubled its enrollment, amassed a contingent of paid staffers and started offering after-school programs.
The school has outgrown its current setup inside the Family Christian Center on U.S. Route 1, and officials at the educational facility are looking for a new place to educate their students.
Cornerstone Christian Academy educates pupils in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The idea for the school originated with a handful of people interested in the Greater Houlton Christian Academy in Houlton, another nondenominational Christian school that has flourished in Houlton and now educates approximately 160 students.
Troy Heald, chairman of the promotional and fundraising committee at the school, said Thursday that the school has been leasing space from the Family Christian Center since its beginning and each year has seen the number of enrolled students grow. With 43 students attending the academy now, space is limited, and a fund-raising campaign is under way in an effort to move to a larger space in the Presque Isle area.
“When we first started, we had 21 students enrolled,” Heald said. “Our staff was all volunteer and we were using DVD teaching materials. Ever since then, we have grown a little bit every year and our staff is now compensated. Our building lease comes to an end this June, so it seems like the perfect time to look for a new loca-tion.”
The school has created a nonprofit arm to raise funds to help obtain and possibly renovate a facility to occupy for the 2011-12 school year.
“We have been told by other Christian schools that if we have our own facility, enrollment will typically increase,” Heald said. “We would like to do that. We have plans to expand classrooms and develop a high school program within the next two years. We’d also like to add additional staff. We are launching a fundraising campaign in order to accomplish this.”
The school has qualified and certified teachers in every classroom and a new after-school care program that is designed to engage students until 5:30 p.m. The after-school program is staffed by a state-licensed caregiver.
“I think the future is bright for our school,” Heald said. “We don’t want to compete with the public school system or take any students away from other schools. We just want to offer an alternative to public education. We know that a faith-based education isn’t for everyone, but the community has been very supportive of us, which is why we think that we have a good chance of growing here.”
Heald said school officials will begin launching fundraisers in the coming weeks. The school continues to accept applications for prospective students.