Cornerstone Christian buys CAM Academy building

Private school, BGPS working on lease for 2021-2022 year

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The building currently housing CAM Academy is set to change occupants, though the new owners are working to let the Battle Ground school operate in place for another year.

On June 1, Cornerstone Christian Academy closed on the sale of the building at 715 N.W. Onsdorff Blvd. that currently houses CAM Academy, a three through 12th grade school that’s a part of Battle Ground Public Schools. Cornerstone plans on moving some of its classes to the building eventually, though superintendent Sandra Yager says that won’t happen immediately in an effort to give the current occupants time to find a new location.

Yager said the idea to purchase the building, which sold for about $3.5 million, came to fruition more than a year ago when the building’s now-former owner Gary Albers asked Cornerstone to visit the property and consider purchasing the building. The school, which currently teaches K-8 grades, has been in existence some 38 years. It was primarily housed at Crossroads Church before it moved to its current location near Faith Center Church in 2018.

Since the move, Cornerstone has operated out of portable buildings at its current site as it eyed more permanent roots. The school was not able to accept Albers’ offer immediately, but Yager said in the span of four days in March, Cornerstone received two anonymous donations to pay for the purchase of the CAM Academy building.

“It was an unbelievable experience,” Yager said about the unexpected donations.

The sale originally raised concern from the current tenants. BGPS Superintendent Mark Ross sent a letter to district families in May stating the district was “surprised” at the sale, adding the district made its own offer on the building.

In the letter, Ross wrote the district was looking to lease the building from the new owners for at least another year, something the new owners said was a possibility. Yager said one of the stipulations of the sale was that CAM Academy would remain in the building for another school year to give BGPS time to figure out where the school would relocate to when Cornerstone moves in.

BGPS has leased the building from Albers, a former teacher at the school, since the mid-1990s. Yager said his desire to allow CAM Academy to stay put temporarily was something the anonymous donors supported.

“He has a tremendous love for that (CAM Academy) program,” Yager said about Albers.

Yager said Cornerstone is working with BGPS on the terms of the 2021-2022 lease. She said the lease would likely be “pretty similar” to what the district was paying Albers. Ross’ letter stated the lease for the building was about $513,000 for the 2020-2021 school year.

In an email, BGPS Spokesperson Rita Sanders confirmed the district was working with Cornerstone on the lease. Sanders said the school board would need to take action to approve any lease contract.

“The district is hopeful that it can come to an agreement with the new owners that will provide enough time to evaluate options for CAM and gather stakeholder feedback,” she wrote.

Though plans for what the building will house aren’t decided, Yager said an initial idea includes relocating Cornerstone’s middle school and its new high school program, which will start teaching students at King’s Way Christian School in Hazel Dell next school year, according to Cornerstone’s website.

“At this point, that is a decision that has not been made at all,” Yager said.

She said feedback from parents of students will factor into the school’s plans for the building.

The superintendent said being able to purchase the building is a “miracle” in its own way.

“A couple months ago we were not in any position (to buy the building,)” Yager said. “It’s such an amazing, exciting feeling.”

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