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HomeEducation NewsMeet a president guiding the merger of two Missouri non secular schools

Meet a president guiding the merger of two Missouri non secular schools

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Because the coronavirus wound its means by the U.S., shutting down school campuses and stressing their funds, eyes turned to the smaller establishments with usually shaky budgets.

Larger training pundits predicted extra widespread, everlasting closures, lots of which didn’t materialize. Nonetheless, some schools couldn’t maintain their enrollment up.

A kind of was St. Louis Christian School, a metropolitan nonprofit non secular establishment, with only some dozen college students.

Its operations have virtually solely merged into Central Christian School of the Bible, because the governing boards of the 2 establishments gave last approval for a merger in April after an preliminary greenlight in October final yr. 

At 170 college students final fall, Central Christian School of the Bible is a small establishment. We spoke with David Fincher, president of the faculty, about challenges he encountered throughout consolidation and the way forward for smaller, non secular establishments. 

This interview has been edited for readability and brevity.

HIGHER ED DIVE: Inform me extra concerning the historical past of the 2 schools. What prompted this merger?

DAVID FINCHER: Our faculties are very related. We now have an overlapping base of assist. We recruit from lots of the identical locations. In actuality, we’re a rural model they usually had been a extra metropolitan model of the identical establishment — similar accreditation applications, similar constituents for essentially the most half. We have identified individuals from there, we have employed individuals from there. They’ve employed individuals from right here. It’s simply been a collegial relationship by the years. I’ve had a relationship with the final two presidents on a friendship degree. 

David Fincher

David Fincher, president of Central Christian School of the Bible

Courtesy of Anna Janelle Images


Over the past three years, their enrollment took a fairly severe downturn, partly due to some public relations issues concerning Ferguson — they’re within the space — and partly as a result of COVID restrictions of their county had been stronger than somewhere else. That they had some controversies up to now individuals weren’t letting go of. 

Final summer time, once they did not attain a key enrollment objective, their president reached out to me. Their board had already agreed that in the event that they didn’t attain the objective, they needed to do one thing else. The president requested if I might be inquisitive about merging, I mentioned we positively had been and we began an extended dialog that day.

Over the previous yr, we’ve been figuring out the small print of that.

What’s been the massive push currently to finish the consolidation?

This has actually been a foregone conclusion since October. There are actually solely a few steps left with the state of Missouri. 

For the merger, we used a authorized agency in St. Louis that has been very thorough. There’s been some stuff you don’t consider till you’re in the course of it. As an illustration, we had separate kinds of nonprofit standing with the state. There’s an academic nonprofit standing, and a non secular nonprofit standing, and two establishments can’t merge in the event that they’re not of the identical standing. Ours is academic, theirs was non secular, so that they needed to file to get that modified.

Additionally lots of their endowment paperwork had unclear language, and a few of these paperwork needed to be topic to state of Missouri approval earlier than they are often resolved. Not as a result of there’s something unlawful or inappropriate, however the state gained’t permit sure transfers to happen with out at the least a evaluation. We didn’t know that, in order that was a delay.

However we’ve been working as if we had already enrolled all the scholars, their college students are coming right here, they’ve their schedules. The St. Louis campus closed and the scholars had been instructed they needed to provide you with alternate options, however we had been the most probably one since every little thing was the identical ⁠— similar accreditation, similar diploma applications, similar state.

Are you aware how lots of the school’s college students and staff you took on?

They had been a micro school, so that they had been all the way down to about 60 college students once they introduced they had been closing. By the spring they had been all the way down to 53. A few of them had completed within the fall.

So there finally ends up being 35 college students, virtually 40, who didn’t graduate — of these, about 20 of them that had been residential are transferring right here, and about 15 of them are logging on, by Zoom.



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