A Covington private school is in desperate need of funding to buy the property it sits on or face an even steeper Plan B or C.
Grace Christian Academy (GCA) needs to raise $50,000 before July 31 to buy the 7 acres on the I-20 access road it uses as home after the previous owner, whom it leased from, went into foreclosure.
Newton Federal took over the property on June 4, 2013, according to the Newton County Tax Assessor’s Office. GCA Founder and Administrator Thom Allen said he was notified in August – after the school year had already started – that a $50,000 down payment was required to allow him to stay on the land. While Allen said Newton Federal worked with the school to allow them to complete the students’ year, the deadline is quickly approaching.
“It’s at an ideal location away from the road, which is a priority for the safety of the children,” Allen said.
Allen and his wife, Emma, started the school in 1980 in Conyers before moving to Covington 16 years ago and to its current location seven years ago. The fully accredited K-12 private school enrolled 75 students in the 2013-2014 school year.
As of Friday, June 20, GCA has raised $8,551 on its website, SaveOurGrace.com. Parent Katie Cannon also started a GoFundMe.com crowd-funding site for the campaign.
“All we need is 2,000 people giving $25 and it’s there, we’re done,” said Allen’s son and GCA Principal Tim Allen. “We just want to get the word out to as many people as we can.”
Tim Allen said it would cost more to move to a new location – which would likely be another lease – than to buy the property they are already on next to Walker Transmission, which lets the school use its field for sports and other activities. However, if the down payment cannot be obtained by July 31, that will have to be their next option.
“It’s gonna take some people in this community working together,” Tim Allen said.
He said the school has already received money from as far as Washington, Texas, North Carolina and California. Alumni are dispersed all over the country and world, he said.
“The academic product is absolutely there,” Tim Allen said.
GCA’s six-person Quiz Bowl team has gone to the national championship five of the last six years, taking the trophy home in 2012 and 2013. The academic team has placed at the ACE Regional Student Convention for at least a decade, Tim Allen said, and won second place in academics and third in exhibits at the ACE International Student Convention this year with seven students out of 139 schools and 12 countries.
He credited the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) Curriculum, also known as School of Tomorrow or the PACE system, and a teacher-to-student ratio of less than 1-10 as a reason for students’ success. He pointed out Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the Republican Conference, graduated from an equivalent school with the same curriculum. Rodgers is in charge of communicating the party’s message to the Republican caucus.
“This community needs this institution,” Tim Allen said, “for the gifted kids and those not quite reaching average.”
He said the school size and curriculum allows teachers to work individually with the students at whatever level each child is at across all subjects.
“We don’t have to exclude ourselves to just the gifted kids,” Tim Allen said.
The Allen family said any extra funds received beyond the $50,000 goal will be used for mortgage payments.
“Time is of the essence,” Tim Allen said. “We need everyone. There are no small donations. By faith we believe God is going to provide this, and it is our job to get the word out.”