OUR VIEW: Fairhaven take-over of school begs questions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Monday’s news that Fairhaven Baptist Church is assuming control over West Alabama Prep &045; soon to be named West Alabama Christian &045; brings a mixed bag of hope and looming questions.

For their part, church leaders are in no hurry to rush into the business of school administration. They are wise enough to know that they should take their time to acclimate themselves to what is going on at the school and to carefully evaluate changes that need to be made.

One of the first challenges will be to fight off dropping enrollment numbers. West Alabama Prep is a respected school with a fine tradition and dedicated parents and alumni. Unfortunately for them, they face what a lot of small private schools do not face &045; a strong, popular public school system.

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Fairhaven leaders are betting that the change from a preparatory school to a Christian school will draw more students. We’re betting they may be correct in their assumption, but we’re not sure by exactly how much.

For one, while the public schools are state-run, they are still filled with teachers and administrators who are good, Christian people. Many parents feel comfortable with the public schools, and a change in curriculum at West Alabama Christian will likely not change that fact.

More likely, West Alabama Christian will meet the needs of people who want a Christian-based curriculum and who want smaller class sizes for more personal instruction.

In the end, the fact that Fairhaven Baptist Church is stepping up essentially to save West Alabama Prep is a credit to the church’s commitment to our community and the school’s value to the educational systems of Demopolis and the surrounding areas.

It will be an interesting journey for both the school and the church, but it is one for which we feel confident several parents are thankful and are willing to undertake.