COPPERAS COVE — After educating students for more than 30 years, the Cove Christian Academy will likely be closing its doors next school year to make way for a charter school.

Mark Kelsay, pastor of First Assembly of God in Copperas Cove, confirmed Monday that the Temple-based Priority Charter Schools does have plans to use the facilities located on the church grounds for a new campus, and that it would likely mean the academy would be closing its doors.

“The way we see it, this is a way to go on and continue to provide children with the opportunity for a good education,” said Kelsay, whose wife, Michele, is the academy’s principal.

The academy is a private school that currently serves about 35 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade. According to the school’s website, the academy offers its students a Christian and academic education using the popular A Beka curriculum.

While Priority Charter Schools would renovate and operate out of facilities located on the church’s property, it would not be affiliated with or run by the church or the academy.

“It’s just like a rental situation,” Kelsay said. “Our goal is to be good hosts.”

Priority Charter Schools, which currently operates two campuses in Temple and Georgetown, is not a Christian school and does not use the A Beka curriculum. Instead, the school focuses on creating individualized learning plans for students, and also emphasizes developing good character.

Priority, which has an estimated 475 students at its current campuses, is seeking permission from Education Commissioner Michael Williams to open elementary school campuses in Cove and Harker Heights. It already has approval to open a middle and high school in Killeen.

Unlike private schools like the academy, which charge tuition, charter schools are funded by the state and cannot charge parents any money to enroll students.

Under state law, charter schools must enroll students on a first-come, first-serve basis like a public school.

In cases where there are more students looking to enroll than the charter campus can accommodate, a lottery is held. This means that the academy’s current students will not automatically be enrolled in the charter school.

“They’ll have an opportunity to enroll just like other kids from the community,” said Nick Farley, Priority Charter Schools superintendent.

Farley said he hopes to get approval from the commissioner in March or April, and to open all three campuses by August.

Contact Chris McGuinness at or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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