Concordia Lutheran High School makes a decision about its future in Fort Wayne
Concordia Lutheran High School will be staying at its current campus at Anthony Boulevard and St. Joe River Drive.
The school had been studying the possibility of moving to a site near Parkview Regional Medical Center. But a case committee exploring that option provided a thorough report recommending the school can best serve its mission and the community from its present location, said Mark Webb, school board chairman.
The recommendation was driven by the committee’s close review of the school’s mission statement, said Mychal Thom, Concordia’s head of school.
The mission statement reads: “Concordia Lutheran High School pursues Christ-centered educational excellence that equips individuals for lifelong learning and service as disciples of Jesus Christ.”
The case committee’s report and recommendation were accepted by the school board at their May 21 meeting, Webb and Thom said. School officials shared the information in mid-June with delegates from the 17 area Lutheran Church congregations that own the school.
“We now are excited to move onto the next steps of our process,” Webb said.
Those steps include asking a program committee to study and make recommendations about the types of academic and other programs the school should provide in the future, he said.
A financial impact committee also will be evaluating the current conditions at the school and what costs may be associated with providing the programming it wants to offer in the future, Webb said.
Two of the three original options still are on the table, Webb and Thom said. They are:
• Stay at the current location and renovate the school and athletic facilities. Concordia has a combined total of about 42 acres at its current campus – about 19 acres west of Anthony Boulevard where the school stands now and about 22 acres containing its athletic facilities east of Anthony and north of St. Joe River Drive.
• Flip the campus by building a new school on the land now occupied mostly by athletic facilities east of Anthony Boulevard. Zollner Stadium likely would stay where it is, but other athletic facilities then would be rebuilt on the site of the current school building.
Concordia and Bishop Dwenger High School have an agreement on sharing Zollner Stadium and the tennis complex at Concordia, and those will continue, Thom said.
In February, school officials estimated the cost at about $40 million to $60 million for any of the options, which then included relocating to about 85 acres at the southeast corner of Diebold and Union Chapel roads. The owner of that land offered to donate about 55 acres for construction of a new Concordia Lutheran High School; about 30 acres along Diebold Road would have been used for commercial development.
PROCESS BEGINS THIS FALL
Thom said the programming committee will start its work this fall, and the financial impact committee could begin work about the same time or shortly afterward. The programming committee’s information-gathering will include asking families what they want in academic and other programs as well as asking graduates about the best aspects of the school’s current programs, he said.
It could take the committees one to two years to complete their work, but they could finish more quickly, Webb said.
As of now, Concordia Lutheran High School still has a goal of reaching an enrollment of 1,050 students in 10 to 15 years, he said. The school had an enrollment of 745 students this past school year in a building with a capacity for 825 students.
Now that they know where the school will be located, school leaders can start focusing on the possibilities, Webb said. For example, the current location places the school close to downtown Fort Wayne, which is undergoing a major redevelopment and is attracting more people to live there.
“God has very interesting things in store for us,” he said.
Both he and Thoms said Concordia needs classroom and other space that is agile and flexible to accommodate changing needs or uses.
“We are not going to let walls decide what’s best for our students,” Webb said.
Portions of the current school are 50 years old, and the building has gone through a number of expansions in the past, Thom said earlier this year.
No matter what Concordia leaders and the Lutheran community decide to do, there still will be a cost, Thom said. School officials recognize the need to be fiscally responsible, he added, and they will approach the upcoming process that way.
While some people are understandably cautious about change and the future, he said there also seems to be an energy sparked by people thinking about what they want Concordia Lutheran High School to be.
“We are not changing who we are,” Thom added. “We are just looking at how we deliver that.”
For more about Concordia Lutheran High School, go to the school website.