Declining enrollment cited as determining factor
By Dennis Minich
After 46 years of existence, the 2019- 2020 school year may be the last for the Harrisonville Christian School. Parents of students were informed at the beginning of the month there would not be classes next fall.
According to Chad Culpepper, the school’s principal, the school administrators met with the elders of the Harrisonville Community Church and the HCS School Board Jan. 30 and made the decision to “indefinitely close.”
“This was a hard decision with plenty of tears surrounding the decision,” Culpepper said. “There are a lot of people who have dedicated their lives to the school, so it was a tough decision. I am honored to have been a part of it, even if it was just a few years.”
He said the declining enrollment is the problem.
“Harrisonville is simply not growing like Raymore and Pleasant Hill,” he said.
The school started the year with about 80 students. The peak enrollment came in the 1998-99 school year when HCS had more than 200 students.
The closure will not affect the Kinder Kastle preschool. Culpepper said staff is gearing up for next year’s enrollment.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our preschool ministry, it has a bright future,” he said.
While the kindergarten through eighth grade school will be closing at the end of
the year, Culpepper said people are already studying what might be a viable alternative.
“I am deeply saddened, but I am encouraged by other possibilities. I am optimistic about the future of Christian education. There is still a bright future,” he said.
It was recently announced Culpepper will be joining the staff at the Harrisonville Middle School as vice principal next year. There are currently 27 full time and part time staff members at HCS.
“We have some people with long experience in Christian education. I am sure some will look for other teaching opportunities and some others will probably seek other options,” Culpepper said.
He said staff was notified of the decision the day after the Jan. 30 meeting. Parents were then informed by email and a parents’ meeting was held the next week. He said the primary questions concerned alternatives.
“We are committed to helping in the transition,” he said. “We do realize this will have a significant effect on many people. We have a good relationship with other Christian schools, so we will do what we can to share the options.”