Backers raise $45K to keep Pine Hills Academy operating

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 15, 2003

GLOSTER &045;&045; Faced with the reality that Pine Hills Academy would close without immediate financial help, stockholders made cash donations and pledges totaling $45,000 Thursday night to keep the school open.

Officials said the extra funds will allow classes to start today and ensure teacher salaries for the first month of operation. With only 111 students enrolled in grades K-12, the MPSA Class A school is facing a $105,000 revenue

shortfall for the entire 2003-04 school year.

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&uot;We’ve got to come up with a way to operate this school, and that means more money, because we don’t have the kids,&uot; said Darwin Huff, a member of the PHA Board of Directors.

Huff blamed this year’s weak enrollment on the closure of the Georgia-Pacific plywood mill. &uot;When GP closed, it scared a lot of people … If we can pull this thing together, I think we will be in better shape next year.

I think some of those people will come back,&uot; Huff said.

Headmaster Lloyd King said the school needs 150 students for it to remain stable.

&uot;That many students would meet the bottom line with no extra expenses at the current tuition rate,&uot; King said.

The school has filed an application for a federal non-profit corporate tax identification number to allow for tax-deductible donations.

&uot;That work has been done. When it is approved, it will be effective from March 29, 2003,&uot; King said.

The school is also exploring private and federal grant possibilities, and stockholders formed a committee Thursday night to oversee all fundraisers at the school.

Gloster resident Claudia Jackson said two generations in her family have attended Pine Hills.

&uot;I was the third one to buy stock in this school when it opened.

My son went to school here, and I have grandchildren here now. And they sure don’t want to leave,&uot; she said.