Woodlawn Christian School announces closure, Effective immediately

PRINCE GEORGE, VA (WWBT) - A local private school is closing its doors, effective immediately. This just weeks before the new school year gets underway.

Woodlawn Christian School says low enrollment and financial issues are  the main reasons why it can no longer remain open. This month, parents and employees, like Rachel Mitchell, got the news.

"It was a little bit of a shock. we were anticipating being here," said Mitchell.

81 students from kindergarten through 8th grade are left looking for new schools to attend. About 30 employees are looking for new jobs. Mitchell's employment is in limbo.

"It's just up in the air right now - it's just a lot going on," said Mitchell.

The school superintendent, Pastor Kenneth Hendricks, says tough decisions had to be made.

"There was a great deal of learning going on here. We've not been able to keep up with the economy and the pace," said Hendricks.

In recent years, enrollment at the school has dropped from 274 to 81 students.

"We've tried several different avenues and plans to increase our classroom size and meet our goals however, that hasn't been possible," he added.

Superintendent Hendricks says he's working with other schools in the community to help place students.

"The private schools we talked to said they'd waive some fees for them if those kids started -- just to bring them over there," said Hendricks.

With tears in his eyes Hendricks says closing Woodlawn Christian School is heartbreaking -- but necessary.

"Things change and we have to change with the things.  We didn't want to start a new school year acquiring new debt if we weren't going to be able to meet the present needs," said Hendricks.

The child development center inside the school will remain open. The superintendent says there are enough kids in that program to keep it afloat.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.