Expansion Highlights ‘New Era’ for Growing Lutheran School
It was just five years ago that declining enrollments led Concordia Lutheran School to merge two separate campuses in order to continue sharing a quality Christian education with children in the South Wisconsin District.
Today, a school that some may have feared near death is thriving with a growing student body, a waiting list of more than 30 children and a $1.4 million expansion that, with the help of a Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) loan, will nearly double needed classroom space.
“A whole new era” is how Principal Jeannine Klein joyfully describes this latest chapter for the 46-year-old Concordia, where former school families are returning and new families are discovering.
This marks the third year for the school’s participation in the Parental Private School Choice Program–a decision that opened the door to funding that helps Faith Lutheran in Sturtevant and Holy Cross Lutheran in Racine share Jesus and academic excellence with more children.
Enrollment has grown to 172 at the start of the current academic year, from 89 students in 2011.
“Many of the families that left our school during the recession were eligible to apply for a voucher [through the School Choice Program] as they were now in the public system,” Klein said. “They returned, and new students [also] were eager to receive a Christian education.”
LCEF Support ‘Incredible Blessing’
In June, Concordia celebrated the start of an expansion that is another big step toward strengthening Christian education.
The 16,800-square-foot addition includes office space and seven new classrooms–providing each grade a self-contained classroom, a change from 2011 when students learned in combined classrooms, from a combination first and second-grade classroom through a combined seventh and eighth-grade room.
The expansion–scheduled for completion in December–will enable Concordia to serve as many 250 more students.
“We simply had nowhere to go with the increasing number of students applying to attend Concordia,” Klein said of the expansion. “The school had consumed every remaining nook and cranny . . . to bring additional students in.”
Just as Concordia leaders are grateful for legislation that makes possible the Parental Private School Choice Program, they also are thankful for construction loan support made possible by LCEF investors.
“Working with Diana to obtain the loan for this project has been such an incredible blessing,” Klein said of Diana Raasch, LCEF vice president for the South Wisconsin District. “She was extremely helpful and thorough in her gathering of information so that this dream would become a reality as God willed.”
More Opportunities in Future
Looking ahead, Klein is excited that the expansion includes a basement that can be renovated to develop additional school space for the future.
She hopes Concordia eventually can add a staffed and dedicated resource room for students with special needs. “The need for this service is great,” Klein said.
Another goal is to expand the preschool program, which currently is not part of the School Choice Program. “We will in the future, which will likely increase the number of students we see attending at this level,” the principal said.
While the School Choice Program has expanded Concordia’s enrollment, the school remains unwavering in its mission, says the Rev. Jeffrey Mortenson, pastor at Faith Lutheran.
The state voucher program enables families previously unable to afford a Concordia education “an opportunity to be blessed by it,” he said.
The pastor also noted that families are discovering the church as well as the school. Earlier this year, he baptized a school family of three–just one example of Concordia’s twofold mission to bring Jesus Christ into lives and provide academic excellence