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City offers $7.6 million to buy church property for charter school; church will vote May 2

Pompano Beach – City officials have offered to buy Christ Church United Methodist for $7.6 million. If sold, the church at 210 NE 3 St would become the charter school city officials plan to open.
According to the Christ Church website, the city made its formal offer on March 10. On March 15, the church council began its formal consideration process.
The city’s offer will be voted on during a church conference on May 2. If the church agrees to the offer, members of the city commission will also vote on it.
Sandra King, the city’s communications director, said the city is keeping the offer confidential until it is presented to the commission. The proposed sales price was detailed in a church email.
The church owns several properties in the area, including its main campus, and values them at $8.1 million. They are all included as part of the sale. According to the Broward County Property Appraiser, the assessed value of all the church’s parcels is $6.5 million.
Church leaders will merge their ministry with Parkway United Methodist Church in Deerfield Beach, 100 NE 44 St. The members of Parkway voted in favor of the merger on April 18.
Some of the funds from the sale would be used to renovate Parkway to accommodate its food pantry and other services. Building a new community center to expand ministry offerings is also on the drawing board. The remaining money will be set up as an endowment for ministries.
Church leaders say they were assured by the city that the chapel, which was built in 1938 and is on the registry of historic places, would be preserved and used as an art and music classroom. The rest of the church buildings will be renovated for classrooms and other spaces.
St. Martin Episcopal Church and Harbour Church lease portions of Christ Church’s property for services and will have to vacate. Messages left with both churches were not returned in time for publication.
Church leaders say charitable services will continue at Parkway, but some volunteers and members are concerned they will be negatively impacted by the move.
“We’re going to lose that when the city takes the property,” said one volunteer, who asked that her name not be published.
Christ Church member and volunteer Ray Burrows, who estimates that the church serves about 100,000 meals a year, said that most of the people who benefit come from Pompano Beach and areas south of the city.
He’s concerned that the extra distance to Parkway will make getting help even more of a burden, and cited the bus transit center, 0.2 miles from Christ Church, as a big reason why Pompano Beach is a much better location. “It’s much more convenient,” said Burrows.
He’s also critical of the city, saying it already owns other pieces of land that could be used for a school. “Displacing an existing, effective ministry doesn’t seem to be the best use of the city’s money, considering so many are in need,” he said.
“We’re going to have to work out some transportation,” said Brian McComb, chair of Christ Church’s council.
McComb believes Parkway is a chance to improve and expand the church’s charitable works. “It will be so much more inviting . . . a lot of thought and prayer has been going through this for a lot of months.”
Asked about the concerns regarding services, McComb said there is still some work to do before the move, so any concerns now could “be putting the cart before the horse.”
Christ Church Lead Pastor Brett Opalinski understands there is grief that comes with the sale of the church, but he says it’s an exciting possibility that will benefit the church and the city.
“We’re really pleased it’s going to be used for school [because of Christ Church’s focus on children],” said Opalinski. “The fact that this space is going to be used for that purpose is a really good thing.”
The charter school
In July of 2020, the Broward County Public School District approved the K-8 Pompano Beach Municipal Charter School [PBMCS] application. The city has up to three years to begin classes.
Officials want PBMCS to be an alternative to underperforming public schools and an option for parents who send their child to a private school and want to save money on tuition [students will attend the charter school for free].
According to the latest school grades, released in 2019, the city’s K-8 public schools got one A, three B’s, seven C’s and one D.
The city is modeling its school off the City of Pembroke Pines’ charter system, which has elementary and middle schools, both of which have A grades. Said Mayor Rex Hardin in August of 2020, “Unfortunately, not all of our schools are A schools.”
The city commission would act as school board for the school.
Enrollment priority at PBMCS will be given to city residents. If not enough residents apply, enrollment will be open to students in other cities.
Funding will come from the Florida Education Finance Program based on how many students enroll. Additional money can be raised through grants, fundraisers and third-party donations.
City officials plan to open the K-8 school in time for the 2024-2025 school year and will start with up to 380 students in kindergarten and first, second and sixth grades.
More students and grades will be added each year until the 2027-2028 school year when the final grades will be added, bringing the school’s final enrollment number to about 910.

Raymond Simpson

Raymond Simpson is a California native, a longtime Coral Springs resident, and the Editor at TSFD. He lives with his family in Coral Springs, where you can find him on weekends running – literally running – with his two golden retrievers.

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