Columbus Christian to offer K-6 satellite in North Vernon

A local private school is working with a Jennings County church to provide a satellite location for elementary grades.

Columbus Christian School recently announced its partnership with First Baptist Church of North Vernon to provide a satellite campus. Superintendent Kendall Wildey said while the Columbus location offers PreK to 12th grade, the satellite will be kindergarten through grade six only, and the school hopes to see it open this fall.

Columbus Christian recently had three open house events at First Baptist to share information with residents. According to Wildey, 48 different families were present, with about 60 to 65 kids overall. The school hopes to have at least 42 students from a budgeting perspective, and about 14 have enrolled so far.

The partnership with First Baptist came about due to shared interests, said Wildey.

“They’ve been pondering the idea of a Christian school, Christian education in North Vernon for about the last 18 years,” he explained. “And so they actually, with forethought, have built facilities with a school in mind.”

These facilities, which are part of the church campus, include classrooms, a kitchen, a cafeteria and space for recreation.

Columbus Christian has gotten a lot of interest from Jennings County residents over the last couple of years and recently began a shuttle bus service that included some pickups in the area. The school has 46 students from Jennings County enrolled at its main campus at East Columbus Christian Church for the upcoming school year.

“Because of that interest and First Baptist Church in North Vernon’s interest in Christian education, we just got together,” said Wildey. “And they said, ‘Hey, you’ve got the school. We’ve got a great facility. Would you be interested in having classes here?’”

He said Columbus Christian is extremely excited to offer an option for Christian education to Jennings County.

According to the Indiana Department of Education, existing nonpublic schools in the area include St. Mary’s Catholic School and Plain View School (which is part of the Amish Schools of Indiana).

In addition to setting up the satellite partnership, Columbus Christian is also moving forward with a building expansion for its Columbus campus. While an initial ceremony was held in May, Wildey said that the actual “groundbreaking and earthmoving” will begin on Tuesday.

The expansion will connect to the existing school building and cost about $2.5 million, school business manager Dan Lunsford said in a previous interview. It will add nine classrooms with a focus on middle and high school grades. There are also plans for a potential second phase of expansion.

A major cause of the project is school growth. Lunsford said Columbus Christian’s enrollment for 2021-22 was 244 students. Early enrollment for the upcoming school year was 264 as of mid-May, with the school expecting 280 to 290 students — or more — by August.