Local News

Christian Academy Closes As Others Fight Falling Enrollment, Rising Costs

Posted March 18, 2004

— After 15 years, a Raleigh Church school is closing its classrooms.

Destiny Christian Academy cannot fight falling enrollment and rising costs any longer.

It is a struggle many private schools face. The question is, can any of them survive?

Private schools boast lower student-to-teacher ratios, and higher test scores. The Raleigh Christian Academy teaches a faith-based curriculum that sold Jami Clay.

"I've just always felt like it was important, both the quality education and to have a Christ-centered education," Clay said.

But at what cost? For Clay, a single parent, private-school tuition squeezes an already tight budget.

"You just learn to make sacrifices other places," she said, "and that's really what I've done."

The tight times were too much for Destiny Christian Academy. Pastor Jim Kelly announced Monday that he is closing the school in May, based on bottom-line numbers.

"We had single-digit enrollment for our middle school," Kelly said. "You just cannot make it that way."

Kelly said there are three factors forcing him to close the academy:

  • A slumping economy,
  • a growing number of private schools competing for students,
  • and the rising costs of doing business.
  • "The financial alone, taking care of people, and insurance," Kelly said. "Everything that goes into putting a school together; it's not what it used to be."

    WRAL spoke with the local Catholic diocese. A spokesman said Triangle Catholic schools survived the slumping economy but that several schools in Eastern North Carolina were hit with dropping enrollments.

    Raleigh Christian Academy has managed to survive for 26 years. Dwight Ausley said enrollment actually will go up next year.

    "With the rebound of our economy, I believe that Christian schools will begin rebounding, as far as their numbers," Ausley said.

    But even in the good years, Ausley said, there is a small margin for error, a thin line between passing and failing.

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