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CCS owns land, pursues building on Gering plot
December 04, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
The capital campaign continues to build a new Community Christian School building in Gering at Five Rocks Road and Old Oregon Trail.
The 35-acre tract of land has already been purchased for $300,000. And now the school’s administrators are in the process of raising funds to build the structure itself.

“With the cost of a large building like that, this isn’t going to be a one or two year project,” said Gaylen Nighswonger, the school’s interim superintendent. “It could be something that extends over multiple years.”

On multiple occasions, the CCS board has been discussing how to move forward.

“We don’t want to go into debt to build this,” Nighswonger said. “That means rolling it out over several years.”
He said that ultimately, the school would like to offer a program from preschool through high school, which could include about 250 students.

Nighswonger added that the board will meet in early 2015 with major donors and other financial professionals to discuss the future of the project.

Although the project to raise funding for a new building is ongoing, the focus remains on the annual function of the school.
“Private schools fund themselves, so a lot of it is contingent on the number of students we have enrolled,” said School Board President Gil Watkins. “When we have a downturn in enrollment, we’re challenged to make payroll and keep the school operating. An enrollment downturn means bigger projects get put on the back burner.”

Community Christian School is currently in one of those downturns, with about 180-190 students enrolled for this academic year.
“We’re working with the school foundation continued support on an annual basis,” Watkins said. “They help with scholarships, but I also think they’re going to be a big factor in how we approach our capital campaign for future growth.”

In addition to the capital campaign, the CCS Foundation also has its annual fundraising campaign at the end of the year. Foundation President Dana Weber said letters for their “Invest in Our Children Campaign” go out around Thanksgiving.

“This campaign raises funds to help students in financial need to attend the school,” Weber said. “The school board takes applications to grant some amount of financial aid.”

Weber said funds are also used for technology upgrades such as computers and also for classroom equipment. The goal for this year’s campaign is $40,000.

The privately-funded, inter-denominational Community Christian School opened in 1988 in the old Bryant Elementary School building in Scottsbluff. However, the Bryant facility was built in the mid-1920s and is experiences many of the same problems that older buildings have. Also, the school is squeezed into limited space due to neighborhood growth over the past 80-plus years.

The goal of the school is to provide the North Platte Valley with an excellent educational alternative which intentionally teaches and emphasizes the truth of God’s Word.

“Right now our strategic plan is aimed more at generating a real sense of academic excellence and value for families,” Watkins said.
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