Christian school in Machias not re-opening this fall

Machias Valley Christian School, in operation since 1981, is contained in the building of Machias Valley Baptist Church.
Tim Cox | BDN
Machias Valley Christian School, in operation since 1981, is contained in the building of Machias Valley Baptist Church. Buy Photo
Posted July 21, 2014, at 12:39 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — Machias Valley Christian School, cited earlier this year for fire code violations, will not hold classes for the the 2014-15 school year, the chairman of the school’s board of directors said Monday.

The school, which has been in operation since 1981, will attempt to reopen for the 2015-16 school year, Rob Wood said.

In the past, the school accepted registrations through the summer, though it conducts a pre-registration in May. However, school officials sent an email to parents about two weeks ago, asking for students to be registered by July 18. The board planned to make a decision whether the school would hold classes in 2014-15 by July 22.

At the time the email was distributed, about 30 students were registered at the school. Machias Valley Christian School, which operates in Machias Valley Baptist Church, had about 85 students in grades pre-K through eight during the 2013-14 school year.

The board met July 18 and agreed by a 5-0 vote not to open in the coming school year, Wood said.

The number of registered students “wasn’t enough to … continue school for this (coming) year,” Wood said. “We’re going to take the next year and rebuild.”

School officials have been exploring options to keep the school open after it failed the fire inspection in April. The building is maintained by the church, which supports the school as a mission.

School officials were notified in May the building was not in compliance with the fire code for a school. Among other things, the building needs a sprinkler system, fire-rated sheetrock installed on most walls and new windows. Initial estimates indicated the three projects would cost from $150,000 to $250,000. School officials were given 120 days to comply. They also have been exploring moving the school to a different building.

An email dated July 19, sent by four board members to parents and supporters of the school, stated, “This rebuilding process will include a planned transition of MVCS to an independent organization in a new facility. During this time we will need to raise funds to make this vision a reality.

“There will need to be much work done in the next 12 months,” they wrote. “We ask for individuals who are passionate for continuing Christian education in our area to partner with us in this endeavor.”

People who are interested in helping were asked to contact school officials.

The message from the board members indicated school officials would use Facebook to update supporters on progress.

When asked whether school officials considered it a setback, Wood said, “Well, we definitely would have preferred to continue, but it is an opportunity to take another fresh look at things and rebuild. So in that way, there is some excitement there to take a fresh look at it. Start from the ground up, really.”

Joan Carter, a board member, said in an interview a couple of weeks ago that people have become discouraged and some parents had enrolled their students in public schools. Carter referred to it as a “panic” response on the part of people who were discouraged by the results of the fire inspection. In addition, the school’s administrator and a teacher recently resigned.

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