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YOUNGSTOWN Academy loses home but still plans to open



Published: Sat, July 7, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The school district has re-claimed the building and changed the locks.

By RON COLE

VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Despite a dispute with the city public schools, Calvary Christian Academy plans to remain open next school year, although academy officials aren't sure where.

"At this present time we're just closed for the summer, but we definitely plan on having an academy, and we're working on something right now," said the Rev. Alfred Coward, assistant pastor of Mount Calvary Pentecostal Church.

The church operates the private academy for pupils in kindergarten through high school. The academy has been housed in the former Princeton Junior High School on the city's South Side since 1995. The church leased the building from the city school board.

Lawsuit: In June, however, the school board filed a lawsuit in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court demanding that the church pay $166,673 in back rent and other charges.

On June 7, the school district re-claimed the building, allowing the academy to remove student records and various personal items before changing the door locks, said Anthony DeNiro, executive director of school business affairs.

"All of the other assets, like snow-blowers and lawn mowers, became our property in lieu of what they owe us," DeNiro said.

Response: The Rev. Mr. Coward said the academy is looking for another home, but he wouldn't be specific on possible sites.

"We're not discussing anything because we don't want to hinder what we're attempting to do," he said.

"It's been in the paper that we owe this and we owe that, but a lot of those things that they have printed are incorrect," Coward said. "We do not go and fight things that are not true. We don't have time for that. We just do what we're going to do and continue on."

Coward and DeNiro said it's still possible the academy will remain in the former Princeton school come the new school year.

"We would like to resolve the differences with Mount Calvary," DeNiro said. "If we can, we would turn the building back to them.

"I'm inclined to believe that they're just walking away from the building and leaving the debt that they owe us."

The dispute over rent is more than two years old. In July 1999, the school board agreed to sell the building to the church for $25,000. The district received two $12,500 payments from the church.

The sale, however, was never approved by the state commission overseeing the school district at the time, which had final authority. So, the $25,000 instead was credited to back rent, the district said.

District use? DeNiro said the school district is considering using the building during its upcoming $163.5 million construction project. For instance, pupils at Sheridan Elementary School may be moved to Princeton in the 2002-03 school year while renovations are being made to Sheridan, DeNiro said.

"If it can be used for that, we'll do it," he said.




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