For years, smiling kids have been the joy of the church's community in Garland. Its children's ministry provides preschool and kindergarten classes for 120 families, including Kim Hartley’s son, Kade.
"They’re working on getting him ready for kindergarten, which has been really nice," Hartley said. "He’s made a lot of friends; he loves to play on the playground afterwards, and the program has just been wonderful."
But as soon as she found her perfect program for son, she’s lost it. After a community meeting last month, the church announced on March 31 that it is suspending all classes for the next school year.
"I was really shocked because nobody had really heard anything about it," Hartley said. "It came all of a sudden."
The announcement put teachers out of a job they were planning on, and left parents to begin the search for a new school.
"It kind of put some people in a scramble to find another pre-K type situation for their children," Hartley said.
In an e-mail message, Executive Pastor Brian Audia told News 8 "the church's limited resources needed to be directed to strengthen the core ministries of the church."
Church elders were more specific in a letter to parents, referencing campus buildings in need of repair and recent legal issues causing financial stress.
Still, Hartley wonders if more could have been done before suspending classes altogether.
"People really try to rally together to find a solution, so I thought they really missed an opportunity for a positive solution for keeping the school open," she said.
The elders at Arapaho Park Baptist Church said they hope to restructure and reopen the pre-K program in the future.