By JOHN FORTMEYER, CNNW publisher
BATTLE GROUND, Wash. — Outnegotiating the local public school district, a private Christian school here in Clark County has purchased a building in Battle Ground to accommodate expected growth for years to come.
Sandra Yager, superintendent of Cornerstone Christian Academy, is quick to credit divine help for the school’s purchase of a 27-classroom building that the Battle Ground School District has long leased for its alternative school program.
“We serve an amazing God,” said Yager.
The building, constructed in phases beginning in 1995, is at 715 N.W. Onsdorff Blvd. The academy in June purchased it for $3.5 million from its longtime owner, Gary Albers.
As reported by The Columbian newspaper, Battle Ground School Superintendent Mark Ross was surprised and disappointed to hear of the sale, as the school district also had been in negotiations for 18 months with Albers for the property. Albers teaches in the district’s 451-student CAM (Character and Academics for the Marketplace) program that has leased the building from him since 1996.
To give the district time to find a new home for the CAM program, Cornerstone Christian has agreed to hold off occupying the building until the 2022-23 school year and will lease it to the district until then.
Cornerstone serves 240 students in kindergarten through eighth grades, but will begin a high school program next fall with its first ninth-grade class. The academy began 38 years at Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, but spun off into an independent entity 10 years ago, and then three years ago moved into portable classrooms at 10818 N.E. 117th Ave., in Vancouver, near Faith Center Church.
Yager said it was yet undecided whether the academy will move fully into the new Battle Ground location, or will split programs between there and the current Vancouver site. She said it’s about a “10 to 12-minute drive” between the new locations. In the meantime, King’s Way Christian School, 3606 N.E. 78th St., has offered short-term space for next school year for Cornerstone to launch its high school program with the ninth graders.
Yager became the academy’s superintendent two years after serving 18 years in the Hockinson School District, where she was a principal. She said a large donation and pledge that came to Cornerstone in March helped make purchase of the Battle Ground building possible. More than half of the purchase price has been paid, and the remaining $1.5 million will be paid in time, she said.