Parents question Christian Academy’s decision to close Southwest campus, ask for parent forum

Christian Academy announced to parents that it would be closing its Southwest campus after this school year.
Published: Oct. 26, 2023 at 11:15 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Last Thursday, Christian Academy announced to parents that it would be closing its Southwest campus after this school year.

Shelby and Sean Malin say when they learned the news on a Zoom call with school administrators, they were stunned.

“Hurt, a little bit of anger at first, shocked,” Sean said. “I think Shelby was actually trying not to cry.”

They are parents of two students in third grade and Pre-K at the Southwest campus. They were told to let their kids know that night because the closure would be discussed with students at school the next day.

“How do you tell your eight-year-old and four-year-old that their school is closing?” Shelby said. “That their friends that they’ve been together with for five and six years, that the teachers that are all they’ve ever known, aren’t going to be there?”

Parents were told the school would be closing due to a lack of enrollment. In a letter sent to families, the school says it will eventually sell the 48,000 sq. ft facility. Currently, the Southwest campus serves 252 students in pre-school through 8th grades with 35 faculty and staff.

The letter offers a guaranteed space at the New Albany, Indiana campus for current K through eighth grade students next school year. It says Southwest families will be given priority at the English Station campus in Middletown.

Families were also offered free bus transportation to both campuses as long as there are a minimum of 15 student riders. But Sean and Shelby say bussing that far wouldn’t be feasible.

“The Indiana campus is a 40 to 45-minute drive one way,” Shelby said. “Coming back with your littles that are in Kindergarten, that’s just not feasible. Putting a five-year-old on a bus with potentially a 12th grader, that’s just not fair to either age group.”

There’s also a difference in tuition. The letter says the Southwest tuition schedule will be honored for one year at the Indiana campus, but not at the English Station campus.

As they decide their next steps, Sean and Shelby say they’re left with questions about how this decision was made. For example, the parents say they were told closing the Southwest campus has been a possibility since last school year, but last April they held a fundraiser for a new outdoor space at the school.

“We had a fundraiser at the end of spring last year to redo an outdoor seating area and do a little walkway for the kids,” Shelby said.  “We were all super excited about it, we raised a ton of money. They cleared out the area at the beginning of summer and then this happened so obviously the money that was raised for that – where is that money?”

Shelby says she and other parents have tried to meet in person with the school’s superintendent but haven’t been able to. The couple says they even received a magazine in the mail Wednesday discussing new expansions at the other two campuses and asking them to donate.

“It was a punch in the gut,” Sean said. “We were really angry about it, and it was like having to go through all of it all over again.”

Parents have started a private Facebook group in an effort to arrange an in-person forum with families.

“The parents have been working really close together on social media just to get a response,” Shelby said. “We understand the decision’s not going to be changed, but we just want to know why. Where has the tuition been going, what could we have done differently to change this decision?”

WAVE reached out to Superintendent Darin Long who gave us this statement:

“The Christian Academy School Board informed families and employees last Thursday, October 19th, that at the end of the 2023-24 academic school year, the Southwest campus would be consolidated into the Middletown and New Albany campuses.

This decision was very difficult as Christian Academy has been part of the southwest Louisville community for 23 years.  Unfortunately, a lack of enrollment growth has led to losses that are no longer sustainable for the school system to absorb. The school system has tried multiple marketing strategies and tuition models in order to increase enrollment but unfortunately, there have not been enough families in the area that have chosen Christian Academy.

Our families, employees, and the entire school system are hurting because of the loss of this wonderful campus community.  Our primary focus is on the comfortable transition of our students and families and doing all we can to ensure the retention of our amazing faculty and staff.”

See the full letter to families below: