- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 8, 2014

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) - Immanuel Christian School is no longer affiliated with Immanuel Baptist Church.

Church members on Sunday voted to accept a buyout proposal from eight local businessmen. The deal ends a 35-year affiliation.

“Our church in the majority agreed to this decision,” Pastor Charles Mullins told The Commercial Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1lLOdC2 ).

“Of course, we have very special ties to (the school), and while we love it very much, we want this to be what God wants it to be. It’s the end of a chapter but it’s what we need to do now.”

Billy Thomas, a former basketball, baseball and track coach at Immanuel, is one of the local businessmen who helped arrange the deal.

The school was never in danger of closing, Thomas said. “No one ever said the school was going to close,” he said. “That was just a rumor.”

The school’s headmaster Joe York resigned last week. That led to rumors that the school would be closing and parents began enrolling their children at other schools, Thomas said. To stop the exodus of students leaving for other schools, Thomas said he and seven other area businessmen decided to step in.

Immanuel currently has approximately 250 students and 30 school personnel. The school is for grades Pre-K-12.

Thomas said the businessmen are not going to run the school but will help in making decisions. Thomas said each of them has ties to the school.

Issues between the school and the church began in February when the church voted to remove all non-church members from the school board and sports booster club.

While the school will remain a Christian school and maintain its accreditation, its name will change, Thomas said. No name has been selected. A new headmaster will be hired. Sandra White, who served as principal of the elementary school, has been serving as headmaster since York’s departure.

Tuition this school year is $4,470, including books.

“Money is tight,” Thomas said. “Our families at Immanuel are hard working parents that are doing everything they can do to put their kids through a school that they can afford to do so … we’re going to try to do a lot of things to keep that down.”

A new athletic facility is in the works, as well as the possible addition of foreign language classes. A new outdoor science lab is scheduled for construction. The church, which has been using the school’s gymnasium for worship services, will relocate to the chapel across the street.

___

Story Continues →