Wednesday, April 19, 2006
RICKREALL -- Jesus Our Jubilee Ministries will vacate the old Rickreall School building at the end of the current school term. There is no word yet whether the group plans to reopen the school in a different location in the fall.
In 2004, in an effort to save money, the Dallas School District began busing former Rickreall students to Whitworth and Lyle Elementary schools and sought to sell the historic white school building at 300 Main Street in Rickreall.
Jesus Our Jubilee entered into a lease-to-buy contract with the district. It hoped to sell the ministry's old school on Birch Street and use the profit for a down payment on the old Rickreall schoolhouse.
Many community members and former teachers found the district's consolidation traumatic, and worried that the Rickreall building would be torn down or converted into a private facility.
If that happened, the community feared it would mean the end for the Rickreall Christmas Pageant.
Jesus Our Jubilee Pastor David Leinenbach and his congregation promised that as long as they owned the building, the Pageant would have a home. That seemed to make most people satisfied with the arrangement.
But two years later, new concerns have arisen. Jesus Our Jubilee is looking for a new home.
That could mean moving back to the old property on Birch Street, which the school had already grown out of and which needs considerable repairs.
"We have made every reasonable effort to obtain private financing for the building in lieu of selling our Birch Street property," Leinenbach wrote in an April 6 letter to the Dallas School Board.
"But one of the major factors in acquiring a loan was the asbestos problem. We are very appreciative of the courtesy that has been shown to us by the Dallas School District, and I am not pleased that it did not work out the way we had planned."
The Dallas School District hasn't yet decided the fate of the building. It has been made clear from the beginning that the district wants the building -- or at least some of the property around the building -- sold.
"We are still in discussions," Dallas School Superintendent Christy Perry said.
"Ultimately, we would like to sell the property and are disappointed that it has not worked out with Jesus Our Jubilee. They have been wonderful to work with, and I know that they too are disappointed."