We have a long list of physical needs at our school which, as God provides the resources, we are able to meet. There have been times during the past five years that I've been here, when the needs, measured against the resources to meet them, seemed overwhelming. But God's provision has shown us, every time, that he is able to do what we sometimes think is impossible. Midwestern Christian Academy is now in its 66th year of ministry, counting multiple blessings, all clearly by the hand of God, for its ability to continue to serve as one of the few remaining Evangelical Christian schools in America's third largest city.
We are dismissing class on Friday because of another opportunity to receive a blessing. In the middle of much bigger needs over the past few years, locker replacement has been put on a back burner. Lockers take a beating, and no one is certain just how long these have been in place. People who were students 40 years ago remember them, even in their current condition.
One of the church elders noticed some lockers that were part of a property auction at a business that had closed. At the end of the auction, they had not received any bids for the lockers. Our interest was communicated to them to ask what would be the absolute minimum bid they would receive to sell us several sections of the lockers. Some money would be better than none, right? We got word over this past weekend that they agreed to an amount well within our new equipment budget for this year, a significant savings for us to get something we need. Because of the timing of the auction, and their need to have all items removed from their premises by Friday, we determined that it would not be safe to try and do all of that work with students in the building.
We are also limited on physical ability to make this happen. We have no place to store the lockers, and we have limited availability of volunteer time to get this done. We are "borrowing" maintenance staff members from Phantom Ranch to help, because they are available during the week, as this is their off season. We hope that some of our parents, Dads or Moms, can come to help on Friday. We don't have a place to store them and with limited availability of help, and the deadline of the company to pick them up by Friday, taking this day is our best option.
An Inconvenience for Parents at Short Notice
There are many factors which go into any consideration of closing school. We understand that many parents who both work must find child care for their children. Snow days and bad weather, or other similar emergencies, while difficult decisions to make, do involve circumstances beyond our control. However, something like this, while not the usual circumstances for most schools, is one of those things that we live with as part of the reality of living within our means and keeping our budget size and tuition costs as reasonable as possible.
One of the reasons that this particular business didn't find bidders for their lockers is that most schools would simply put the purchase of new lockers in their budget, and their maintenance crew would do the removal and installation over the summer. That would require having a maintenance crew, which we don't have, and enough money in the budget to purchase lockers, which we also don't have, and which is one of the reasons we have gone as long as we have without replacing ours. I've been in Christian schools for 35 years, and this is often the way we are blessed with having our needs met. We're grateful when we can make it work for us. We try to be good stewards with the resources we are given, which includes the tuition parents pay, and of our time as well.
At a previous school, we needed to replace old, wooden folding chairs we used when we turned our gym into a theater for plays and musicals. We wanted about 500 of those stacking plastic chairs with casters on the legs. New, those chairs run up to $50 each. A school district just across the state line in Ohio, about 40 minutes away, was auctioning off everything from their old school facilities because they'd just built a new school. I stayed up until 2 a.m. to protect my bids on 5 lots of those chairs, 100 chairs per lot, some maroon, some blue. I got them for $50 a lot, 50 cents a piece. I had to pick them up one week from the auction, so I got the parents of the boys in the senior class to give their permission for them to come along, load up the chairs and unload them at our school. They got a half day "field trip" out of the experience.
I've bought a lot of school equipment that we wouldn't be able to afford otherwise at school auctions. Many of the desks our younger students here now use came from Deer Creek Christian School in Homewood, when it closed a couple of years ago. We did get that done in the summer, but we got about 60 desks and chairs, cubbies, file cabinets, and a lot of the PE and sports equipment we have, along with reading tables, teacher desks and office chairs, for a fraction of what we would have paid for it new. We consider the availability of things like this, and our ability to put them to use as gifts from God.
Good Stewards of Resources and Blessings
God has richly blessed our school with a committed church that believes in and supports its ministry, parents who see the benefits it provides to their children and by making things we need available to us in his way, from his wealth and riches. We've been able to renovate our facilities over the past few years, first the main building and Pre-K, and then the gym. Funds for the main building came from the sale of two lots that the church and school owned at Cornelia and Keating, which had multiplied in value during the decades they were owned by the church. A foundation that was unknown to us, and for whom we were unknown, came up with the money to renovate the gymnasium, along with several other contributors. Several outside donors paid for the better part of the playground equipment we recently acquired.
So there are times, like this, when our schedule gets altered by something that helps us meet a physical need at our school. It's different, perhaps not something that might happen at other schools, but it's a reality in good stewardship of resources. It's a Philippians 4:19 kind of moment.
We had hoped that the removal and installation of the lockers would wait until October 5th and 6th, when teachers have professional development days, but that turned out not to be the case. However, in consideration of the fact that some parents need to find child care and will incur some expense for this day, we will move our professional development into one day on Friday, October 6th, and have school on Thursday, October 5th. That might be a trade-off for this coming Friday, at least as far as child care expenses go.