Keystone Christian Academy finally has a home and a permanent address to use for its certification process.

The Spring Garden Zoning Hearing Board unanimously voted Monday to allow Praise Community Church at 705 Ogontz St. to be the site of Keystone Christian Academy, a K-8 school that will operate on the church's second floor.

The building used to be a school, and while some of the spacial features do not conform to today's zoning requirements, those features were pre-existing and did not hinder development in that area, said James McMillion, zoning hearing board member.

The board also granted the academy a variance from several zoning requirements concerning space. Zoning for the site requires a lot area of 5 acres. However, the academy site is 3.2 acres.

Also, because it's in a residential area, a school would be required to have a buffer of 25 feet around its site. However, one side of the building has a 10-foot buffer.

Residents have been informed of the academy project. Several signed petitions supporting it, and no one has come forward to challenge it, said Jeff Rehmeyer, attorney with local CGA Law Firm, which represented academy officials at the zoning hearing meeting.

Building history: Praise Community's facility was built in the 1935 as Mount Rose Junior High School and has classroom and gym areas, according to Todd Bowser, partner at Campbell Associates, a local real estate development and construction firm working on the academy project.


A south wing was added to the building in 1938, and the electrical service was updated in 1951, said Bowser, also a member of Praise Community Church and the academy's board. A lobby was added to the building in 1991 by Living Word Community Church, now based in Red Lion.

The structure was temporarily used by the Christian School of York in 1991, when the school was displaced because of a fire, Bowser said.

Praise Community Church used to run Praise Preschool program but recently discontinued it because of low enrollment and to make room for Keystone Christian Academy, which was looking for a place to run its educational program, Rehmeyer said.

Keystone plans to begin enrollment this summer, after it completes its state Department of Education application with the addition of its new address and finalizes certification requirements.

The academy also has some architectural work to make sure all facility features — inside and out — are ADA compliant and meet specifications for serving school students.

School days: The first day of school is tentatively set for Wednesday, Aug. 27, said Bowser and Pat Eger, head of school. The academy plans to start with 20 to 30 students in the upcoming school year and add up to 20 students for the 2015-2016 school year. The school expects to have a total enrollment of up to 80 students by the 2016-2017 academic year.

The school will offer biblical instruction and language, math, science and social studies classes, music and art programs and sign language lessons, Eger said.

The academy also would serve homeschool students who want to take certain classes, she said.

— Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at