Penn Christian Academy of Butler County, Inc. is organized exclusively for educational and religious purposes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Penn Christian Academy began as North Main Christian Preschool in 1988. North Main Street Church of God located in Butler, PA provided the physical, financial and spiritual support for the preschool under the direction of Dr. Lois Johnson. Because of the preschool’s success and the constituency’s desire to continue Christian education, North Main Christian School was established in 1993 with its first Kindergarten class. One additional grade was added each year. The school continued to reside within the church facility. After a few years, it became apparent there would be a pressing need for additional space. Plans were made to expand the existing church facility by 32,000 square feet, but a special variance was needed from the Butler Township Zoning Board. The door was shut to the variance despite the efforts and prayers of the church. Clearly God had another plan.
The School Board explored other options and began a capital campaign with the intent to purchase property and build a new school. After narrowing the search to 10 possible sites, the Board acquired a nearly level 33-acre tract of land west of North Main Street Church of God, on Benbrook Road in Center Township. Architectural plans then developed for a 44,000 square foot school building that would accommodate 250 students in the near term and be expandable to house 450 students in the future, but the cost would be over four (4) million dollars There continued to be a sense of urgency due to limited space. By that time, a million dollars had already been raised toward the building. The Board prayerfully sought God’s wisdom for a solution.
In the late spring of 2002, a unique opportunity with significant advantages became available. Due to the South Butler County School District’s elementary consolidation plan, several of their elementary schools were marketed to be sold through private sale. One of those buildings was the Penn Township Elementary School located on West Airport Road. At the time, it housed 260 students in a facility standing on 10.8 acres with a developed playground and ball fields. Although it was an older building (first built in 1920, and renovated in 1954 and 1965 ) it had been well-maintained. The 42,000-plus square foot facility contained a library, multi-purpose room, kitchen, office areas, and 20 classrooms. The school was partially handicapped accessible and had a rated student capacity of 510. An assessment team was deployed to analyze the costs and benefits of such a move.
The team met numerous times to explore the building, to discuss the implications, and most importantly to pray and seek God’s direction. A unanimous decision was made by the board to purchase the facility based on two strong positive implications. 1) It was an opportunity for the school to have its own facility as early as that fall. And 2) It was an opportunity to reduce the overall cost of securing a facility from 4.5 million dollars to approximately the one million that had already been raised. The school was purchased for approximately $700,000 and the remaining $300,000 was used for renovations, upgrades, and start-up costs. In July of 2002, the sale was finalized and the school opened in the fall of 2002 with slightly more than 100 students attending.
In order to market and promote the new school in its new location, a recommendation was made to change the name. The board acted on that recommendation, realizing the new name would more clearly define the who, what, and where that people were asking… Penn (where) Christian (who) Academy (what). North Main Street Christian School formally became Penn Christian Academy and finally had its home under the direction of an interim administration.
In 2004, Mrs. Cindy Dodds was called to the directorship. In 2005, a $500,000 capital campaign was launched to complete some needed renovations, to install a security system and to develop and install a technology infrastructure. The campaign was successful and the renovations were completed.
In 2007 the school applied for dual Accreditation with the Middle States Commission on Elementary Schools and The Association of Christian Schools International. The school leadership spent the next 18 months working on the self-study document. The visiting team examined the school in the spring of 2009 and the school was granted a full term of accreditation (7 years).
The school continued to grow in enrollment and in its programming, launching many new academic initiatives. A science lab was needed to support the existing science program, along with several other additions, including a reading tutoring center. Another capital campaign was launched in 2010. With 1.2 million dollars raised, a tutoring center was developed, a state of the art science lab was built, handicap ramps were installed, and underground water lines were expanded and rerouted to accommodate future expansion. Currently, the school spans over 50,000 square feet.
In 2011, the school filed incorporation documents with the state of Pennsylvania and began the process of securing its own 501(c)(3) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as an auxiliary organization of North Main Street Church of God, changing its name to Penn Christian Academy of Butler County, Inc. The documents were sent to the IRS in the spring of 2013. Full approval was returned by the IRS in the fall of 2014. Shortly after receiving approval from the IRS, the church and school leadership began to discuss the possibility of the school becoming an independent entity, rather than an auxiliary organization of the church. A transition committee was formed during the summer of 2014 to vet all the options.
In the fall of 2014, the church board voted to release the school to independence and donate the existing property housed at 199 West Airport Road to Penn Christian Academy of Butler County, Inc. New Bylaws were written, appropriate amendments were made to the 501(c)(3), amended state registration documents were filed and a new, self-perpetuating governance board was established. The property was transferred and the transition took place on July 1, 2015. The North Main preschool campus closed, but the preschool campus at the Penn campus remained opened. At the same time, a grant was approved from the Department of Environmental Protection to develop an outdoor ecosystem to compliment the new science lab. The outdoor lab was excavated and developed in the fall of 2015.
The school building has become a labor of love, dedicated to its precious children. Countless hours of prayer continue to bathe the school. Only by His grace, His wisdom, His love, and His timing did Penn Christian Academy of Butler County come to be. May His hand continually be upon us, may His Spirit always guide us, may His presence be welcome, and always… to God be the glory.