4:15 p.m.: Story includes corrected information stating that the preschool remain open.
The school principal and parents of students are seeking ways to save Good Shepherd Lutheran School in Menifee following a vote by the church's congregation to close the school.
Church members last Sunday voted 54-22 to close the elementary school in June, said principal Charles Mayer. GSLS, which includes a preschool that will remain open, has been in operation for 12 years at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church site, 26800 Newport Road.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church is responsible for the loan granted by the Lutheran Church Extension Fund -- an organization run by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Based on a study of income, expenses and enrollment, LCEF officials have notified the school and church that it cannot provide additional funds "under the current model."
However, LCEF has indicated it will consider alternate plans that would increase enrollment and income. In fact, Mayer said, LCEF administrators have agreed to meet with Mayer, Rev. Ganas and a group of parents to consider their options.
Rev. Ganas could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Mayer has drawn up a plan he believes will increase enrollment and take the school's finances out of the red. He projects an increase in K-8 enrollment to 137 students in 2014-15, resulting in net income of $127,163.
According to the proposal, Mayer has also cut expenses through adjustments in the janitorial services and by combining two kindergarten classes into one.
"Our California credentialed teachers -- many of whom have Masters Degrees -- academically prepare their students with rigorous challenges to meet the expectations of the next level," Mayer said. "Our students are cultivated to display Christ-like behaviors and are taught the Christian response to a secular world.
"Finally, there is a real sense of belonging. Many of the students have been together most of their lives and treat one another like brothers and sisters. I believe these factors will continue to contribute to future recruiting and population growth in our school."
Mayer said the average annual tuition at a Lutheran school is $5,800 a year. Tuition for Good Shepherd Lutheran School this year is $4,700.
Parents of students who would be affected have expressed concern about the possible closing of the school, which is the only private Christian school in the area.
"Our children love their school," wrote Lisa La Russo in an email to Menifee 24/7. My daughter has been there nine years. The teachers and staff are incredible with the kids. There are not any other schools locally that are private and a reasonably priced.
"The kids can't lose their school. We need the public to help us and maybe the church will listen to the proposal."
Students in the K-8 program receive more personal instruction than in public schools, with an average of 16-18 students per class.
"Our daughter (11) and son (9) have attended Good Shepherd Lutheran School since preschool," wrote Tiernan and Janice Levasseur in an email. "The foundation of learning, both spiritually and academically, they have received there has been invaluable in preparing them for life. We are fortunate and very blessed to have Good Shepherd Lutheran School in our lives."
Enrollment of new students is still being accepted, with the hope that any increase will help the group's efforts to keep the school open next year. For information about the school and its programs, call 951-672-6675.
The opinions of those close to the school were summed up by 12-year-old Ashley La Russo, who has attended the school since she was 3. She posted the following on her mother's Facebook page:
"Either way, I support my school and I really am upset about this. I won't give up, no matter how many people say I should."