Church wins board's OK to open elementary school Seventh-day Adventists to use existing facility on St. John's Lane

March 11, 1996|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Ellicott City's only Seventh-day Adventist Church will open a church-based elementary school in the fall in its facility on St. John's Lane, after winning approval Thursday from the Howard County Board of Appeals.

The Baltimore First Seventh-day Adventist Church also won approval for a day care center to open in the near future, said Ben Boggess, pastor of the 330-family church, which relocated to Ellicott City from Baltimore six years ago.

"Christian education is held as a high priority within the Seventh-day Adventist Church," Mr. Boggess told the board at the hearing.

"We feel an elementary school is an integral part of our ministry so we can train our young people in the tenets of our faith."

The board approved the proposal provided enrollment does not exceed 100 children. Mr. Boggess expects an enrollment of 60 to 70 children in first through eighth grade. The day care program will accommodate about 30 children, but has no scheduled opening date.

In its first year, the school probably will not exceed 20 children, Mr. Boggess said. One teacher will instruct them all in one classroom until enrollment grows and another teacher can be hired, he said.

Eventually, the school is expected to operate two classrooms: one for first through fourth grades, the other for fifth through eighth grades.

"Having schools with more than one grade in the classroom is part of the church's history," Mr. Boggess said. "Our teachers are taught to teach in that environment because it helps with the learning process. The advantage is the younger children can interact with the older children."

The school will charge tuition, which has yet to be determined, and open its enrollment to students of any faith, Mr. Boggess said.

Unlike many other board hearings, which are usually rife with opposition from communities, Thursday's hearing featured no resistance from residents. The North St. John's community, where the church is located, is known for opposing development projects.

Three months ago, for example, residents -- citing concerns about increased traffic and decreased property values -- unsuccessfully opposed a beauty salon plan to operate out of a house in the neighborhood.

What made the church school different from the salon and other proposals, said Ann Koch, the community group's president, was that the church is not planning construction but would use space in its existing building.

"Opening a church school in an existing church is not a big concern," Ms. Koch said. "We usually oppose projects on behalf of residents who will be directly affected. This time they didn't have any problems."

At last week's hearing, Clark Wagner, co-chairman of the community group's zoning committee, came out to voice support for the school. "They're just making good use of what they have," Mr. Wagner said.

The church's Ellicott City facility, which is the former home of Chapelgate Presbyterian Church, has a sanctuary, two classrooms, and a gym. Chapelgate has moved to Marriottsville.

"We'd like to get the school kicked off," Mr. Boggess said. "Now that we have the approval to do it, we just have to work to get it done."

Pub Date: 3/11/96

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