Central Texas Christian School
By: Frances Putman
Central Texas Christian School opened its doors in 1987 with two teachers and 14 students in pre-K through second grade. Over the years, more classes were added, with a high school program beginning in 1998. In 2002, the school graduated its first senior class. Currently, CTCS serves 491 students in pre-K through 12th grade, representing 68 churches in 12 denominations.
While growth was strong and consistent, for many years, the school operated out of rented space in two local churches. In 2001, leaders began a strategic planning program and eventually purchased a piece of property in Temple, Texas, which would become the school’s permanent home.
Originally, the plan was to purchase a number of portable buildings and arrange them on a quadrangle on the new site. In time, a new school facility could be built to replace the portable buildings.
“We were able to show them that for virtually the same amount of money, they could construct a new, permanent building containing more of the features they wanted, like a gymnasium, and actually save money over time in maintenance and operating costs,” said Ken Lee, vice president of marketing for Raymond Construction, the building firm involved in this Building God’s Way project.
The master plan called for a series of as many as five phases to complete the school.
“We encourage our clients to (begin by) constructing more building shell, including roof, walls and floor,” said Jeff Forrest, architect in the project. “Then, they can actually afford to finish out more than they currently need in order to give them a low-cost means of accommodating the growth that always follows construction.”
By following this model, the school was able to “finish out” three of the five planned phases in the structure much more quickly than anticipated. In fact, originally, the school only planned to move the high school students into the new facility, with elementary and preschool classes coming later.
However, in 2005, doors opened on the new, 60,000-square-foot school, which includes classrooms for pre-K through 12th grade students, as well as a fully equipped science lab, art room, library, gymnasium, varsity and physical education locker rooms, computer lab, band/choir room, cafeteria, and administrative offices. The building is enhanced by a video surveillance security system and a wireless computer network, supporting the safety and technology needs of the students.
The exterior of the building consists of painted concrete panels, with factory-finished metal panels in the upper areas. The concrete panels, in addition to being extremely solid and damage-resistant, act as the outer structural components of the building, thereby serving a dual purpose. Lennox rooftop air conditioning units were chosen for their energy efficiency and environmental controls systems.
“No vinyl composition tile is used anywhere in the building,” noted Forrest, pointing out that while the material is durable, the maintenance requires a never-ending cost. “Instead of vinyl composition tile, we used a 100-percent vinyl product that never needs stripping or waxing. All that is required to maintain a like-new finish is wet mopping.”
Terrazzo flooring adds an attractive touch to the school’s foyer.
What seems to stand out most about the project to those involved was simply the way God’s presence was felt throughout the building process. At one point, builders realized that the school would need to connect to a sanitary sewer lift station located off of the site. As it turned out, the city of Temple had made provisions for the school by increasing the size of the station before the school even knew it was necessary. Then, the property developer and the farmer whose land was next to the school’s property agreed to allow the sanitary sewer to cross their property at no additional cost.
Through the Gift-in-Kind program, in which Building God’s Way encourages clients to tap into their connections within the community to get needed labor and supplies at a lower cost, the school was able to generate approximately $225,127 in savings.
“These savings were immediately poured back into the project in finishing out an additional five classrooms,” Lee said. “In the finishing of the gymnasium alone, the local community contributed an estimated $118,000, all at God’s direction.”
The success of the project, Forrest and Lee believe, had a lot to do with seeking God’s guidance through every step in the process. Prayers were offered at the start of every meeting, and a weekly prayer time was held on the jobsite with the workers. Scriptures were written on the structural steel and concrete at appropriate times.
At the ground-breaking ceremony, a young girl prayed that God would lift up Raymond Construction’s superintendent, Johnny Palmer, throughout the project.
“Johnny (who was himself a product of Christian education) later revealed that every time the problems on the project seemed too much to bear, he would remember the little girl’s prayer and a calming peace would overcome him,” noted Lee. “Shortly, he would receive a solution to his problem.”
He said all schools could benefit by using the model put in place at Central Texas Christian School.
“They put God first and the students second on every decision they made,” he said. “Every program and dedication was centered around God and the students—not the school leaders.”
Forrest added that the Building God’s Way program is based on a triangle relationship in the building process.
“At the top corner of this relationship is the school or church. Another corner represents the architects and the last corner is the regional contractor,” he said. “With God being in the center of this triangle, our relationship, how we treat one another and all those that work on the project is based on His teachings.”
Building God’s Way, www.BuildingGodsWay.com, offers services in planning, funding, design and construction of Christian ministry facilities. The team focuses on cost-saving, quality design and construction while encouraging a ministry of construction throughout the process.
School: Central Texas Christian School
Location: Temple, Texas
Size: 491 students
Grades Served: Pre-K through 12
Project Goal: Build a new facility at a new location for this school, which had been holding classes in two different churches
Size: 60,000 square feet
Cost: $4.1 million
Challenge: Originally, the school didn’t think it could afford to build a new facility and was planning instead to purchase a number of portable buildings and place them on land that had been purchased.
Solution: A master plan, with five phases, was designed to allow the school to build a large shell and then complete the building in steps as money was available. The cost was comparable to that of purchasing the portable buildings, when considering upkeep and operating costs.