OUR OPINION: Fairhaven taking right steps in rebuilding school

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The board of education for West Alabama Christian did the right thing Sunday night by announcing to members of Fairhaven Baptist Church and parents of WAC that all indications were no school would be held this year.

The decision, while not final, comes after lower-than-expected enrollment and a lack of quality teachers to fill all needed slots.

As of now, the schools has approximately 60 students enrolled, an average of five students per grade for first through 12th. To break even, church officials said they would need an average of 10 students per grade.

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Furthermore, finding qualified teachers to fill each class for each grade was proving difficult. This is not surprising, considering that schools across the rural South are struggling to recruit teachers.

Some people will see this decision as a failure for Fairhaven Baptist Church. In our opinion, it is not a failure. In fact, church leaders said they are committed to having a Christian school in Demopolis. However, they want to do it the right way.

West Alabama Christian has struggled for many years under different names as enrollment has dropped. The main reason for this is the strength and quality of our public schools.

That said, Fairhaven leaders believe enough people in the community want a Christian school for WAC to be successful. And so, they are seeking to rebuild from the bottom up.

We have said that rebuilding WAC is an admirable undertaking but one that faces many obstacles. Fairhaven, however, is following a model that has worked with many Christian schools &8212; start with one or two young grades and grow from there.

We wish Fairhaven Baptist Church and West Alabama Christian School the best of luck. At the same time, we hope that their efforts for quality education in Demopolis will also be used to support the public schools, where many of the would-be WAC students will now attend.

In the end, it is not about public or private schools but about quality education for our young people. In either form, we support what is best for our community, and we respect anyone who looks to strength the educational offerings for our area.