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Columbia County Christian School envisions new building

Only holds a small amount of cash it needs to buy land


Photo Credit: COURTESY OF COLUMBIA COUNTY CHRISTIAN SCHOOL - A conceptual drawing of the proposed Columbia County Christian School site included in the private school's facility proposal. The school is looking at a $1.5 million commercial property at the corner of Millard Road and Fisher Lane in Warren as a prospective permanent location, among other sites, but it is short on cash available to buy the land.The Columbia County Christian School is looking to build a new, permanent school facility in the St. Helens area, but it does not yet have the money to make it possible, a board member acknowledged Tuesday, Nov. 18.

The school has a nine-page document with concept drawings and information about the proposed facility on its website, which board member Genet Smiens revised just last month, along with a request for donor support to make the building a reality.

“We’re not there yet,” Smiens said of the proposal. “We do not have enough money.”

CCCS is looking at a 6.23-acre property at the intersection of Millard Road and Fisher Lane, on the south side of Millard Road.

“It is a great location that is zoned commercial which is an outright use for schools, has sewer accessible, and no determined wetlands,” its proposal document states.

The total cost of the project is estimated at almost $8.69 million. Of that cost, $1.5 million is the asking price for the Millard Road property, according to the proposal.

“Our prayer is to secure a property and construct a K-12 school building to accommodate 300 students and staff by September 2019,” the conceptual plan concludes.

But Smiens said CCCS has just $136,000 saved right now for the new facility — a fraction of the amount it needs to purchase the property, let alone complete the entire project.

“It’s an amazing proposal, and we’re still shooting for that, but it is a difficult one to maintain due to finances,” said Smiens. She added that the school is considering other properties as well, but the Millard Road site is currently the leading prospect.

The proposed building would be 47,712 square feet in size, plus an 8,000-square-foot gymnasium.

This is the first year in which CCCS is serving 12th grade. It has gradually expanded over the past decade, and it has moved once already — from a schoolhouse in Yankton that was purchased last decade by the charter Arthur Academies to its current site at the Warren Community Fellowship.

According to the proposal document, church elders asked CCCS to come up with a plan by 2015 for moving to a new location, independent of Warren Community Fellowship.

“We have been asked to move off of Warren Community Fellowship’s property,” Smiens said. “They revised our usage agreement and they gave us a certain amount of time to find a new location.”

A request for comment was not returned by Warren Community Fellowship.

Smiens said the school also has to fundraise to stay open, as well as provide scholarships to students who want to attend but do not have the financial means.

“Being small is difficult, also, because we are trying to raise funding just to operate,” Smiens said. “So you combine fundraising for a facility on top of fundraising to operate, and it becomes a big task. And it’s a God-sized task, so only He can fill that need — that’s for sure.”

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