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Little Flock looking to grow, not close school

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By The Staff

PIONEER VILLAGE – Word of the demise of Little Flock Christian Academy may have been a bit premature and erroneous.

However, as attendance fell at the private K-8 school, there was reason for concern about the educational facility’s future.

Principal Brian Trees said there should be no worry as commitments have been received to ensure the program will be around for years to come.

Trees, who is stepping down as principal at the end of the school year to return to the classroom as a teacher, said there were rumors floating around. And leaders of Little Flock Baptist Church had some questions about the school.

One thing led to another and media reports began to talk about the school’s closure.

“This led to some panic,” said Trees. “There were a lot of rumors but we never talked about closing the school.”

Linda Belcher, a school board member at Little Flock, said making a decision now was important. If something was going to happen, they would need time go decide where their child would attend school next fall.

Trees said the school receives assistance from the church in terms of things like the building and utilities at no charge. But the school is supposed to be self-supporting for other expenses.

A parent meeting was held recently to diffuse the rumors and to answer questions. It was also to see how many parents intended to have their children in school at Little Flock next fall.

“Our primary focus is to provide a quality, low-cost Christian education,” said Trees.

“The parents are very committed to the school,” said Belcher, a veteran of the public school system and currently serving in Frankfort as state representative.

That support was evident as there was a 100 percent commitment in current students returning next year.

Jennifer Lamkin, another school board member, said with the issue settled about the future, it was time to begin marketing the institution to others.

Surprising, a large majority of the students don’t attend Little Flock Baptist Church. Lamkin said this would come to a surprise to most people.

After 14 years in operation, a sign was just recently installed along Preston Highway. Prior to that, there was no signage on the school.

Enrollment, which peaked at about 240 students, currently sits around 190. Trees said those numbers should rise.

School officials said that the economy has hurt enrollment some, as well as some incidents involving the church.

“They’re getting a good education,” said Belcher.

Lamkin added that students are testing at two years ahead of their actual grade levels on standardized exams.

The school is a member of the American Christian Schools International and Trees invited parents to visit at any time.

Besides teaching a challenging curriculum, Lamkin said students are getting a Christian education and learning leadership skills.

Eighth grade students just returned from the annual mission trip. This one took them to Washington, D.C. All classes do mission work locally at places such as nursing homes.

Extracurricular activities such as band, choir, volleyball, basketball and cheerleading are also offered.

Trees said applications are currently being accepted for the principal’s position, as well as several teaching positions, for the upcoming school year. Those with an interest can contact the school office as soon as possible.

Several students were upset when hearing talks of possibly closing the school.

Connor Cissell said while it was only his first year at Little Flock, he hoped he would finish out through the eighth grade. He said the school had good teachers and he learned a lot in the first grade.

Eric Quinton, a fourth grader, said the school should stay open because it offers a Christian education. He also complimented the teachers.

First grader Grace Gipson liked learning about math.

Abby Mattingly, a sixth-grader, started attending in the third grade. She likes the teachers and she is also involved with basketball, choir and volleyball.

Lamkin said the main concern about the publicity over a possible closing was it could hurt next year’s attendance. She said there must be a certain number of students attend to make it financially feasible.

But she also believes the school is now in a position to add more students.