Rev. Meeks’ Salem Christian School To Close

Updated 08/02/11 – 5:58 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — There were plenty of tears on Tuesday at Salem Christian Academy, where students, parents and teachers were trying to digest the news that the South Side school founded by Rev. James Meeks is closing after 21 years.

The school, at 11816 S. Indiana Ave. in the West Pullman neighborhood, will not be opening for the 2011-2012 school year.

As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, the school – known for its excellence – now faces a $500,000 deficit.

“I been at the school since I was 3 years old. It is so hard. I really don’t want to go to another school,” said 8th grader Takhari Moore.

But she doesn’t have any choice. The only school she’s ever attended is closing its doors before the next school year begins. Parents got the news at a meeting Monday night.

“I’m upset. I feel really upset. I feel betrayed,” said one parent who didn’t want to be identified. She has two children at the school.

“The first reaction was just a lot of tears. I mean, the teachers started crying, the principal started crying because he told the parents, the teachers and the staff at the same time,” she said.

The school’s 36 teachers will now lose their jobs, but the school’s founder, State Sen. and Rev. James Meeks (D-Chicago), head of Salem Baptist Church, said he had little choice.

Meeks said the enrollment has dropped from nearly 500 to under 200 and the school faces a $500,000 budget deficit.

“We tried to raise tuition and parents didn’t want to do that. We tried to ask them to raise more money for the schools, they didn’t want to do that,” Meeks said. “Last year, our church had to contribute $375,000 to our school. Over the last five years, we’ve contributed $3 million to our schools.”

But it’s the timing that concerns some parents. Now they must find another school and they only have five weeks.

“The charter schools are all gone. … Some public, schools it’s kinda hard to take your kids to a good neighborhood, if you had a problem with the gang bangers and stuff like that,” said grandparent Pretrice Hinton. “You drop your kid off right here and have no problem.”

It’s especially hard for 8th graders like Takhari.

“I don’t want to go to another school … where the teachers don’t care about me,” she said. “I’ll miss the teachers, my friends, the way we got to learn.”

Many parents had already starting paying the $3,000 tuition for this year. The school did refund all their money.

  • billyd

    And I’m sure that people to whom that $700,000 is owed will be repaid promptly. This guy is just another shakedown artist.

  • Keith Clauson

    This would be a good place for people to donate to education

  • Grandmother

    Rev. Meeks said he needs $700,000 to keep the school open this school year. Today he said he needs 500,000 dollars. He doesn’t remember the numbers. AS a grandparent with two children that were attending the schoool, I don’t believe him. I was at the meeting last night. For him to tell the teachers that they no longer have a job in front of more that 200 hundred parents. It was like looking at deer in headlights He didn’t have the decency to tell the teachers in a private meeting. Who does that?…fire/dismiss employees in a public meeting. He said God made him close the school…..Come on Just say the devil made you do it…….I believe he will reopen the school next year as a charter school.

    • Tommy

      That school will never reopen as a charter school with any of the teachers and staff that are there. Meeks built that school and it is gone, soon we hope like Meeks the ranting racist fool.

    • e

      You are correct he will open more money that will be available for him to live like a King for him and his family. He’s such not a man of God he’s a opportunist.

  • FedUp

    Wait, Wait!!! They don’t know how to budget?? Sorry Meeks, I smell something brewing for you and it don’t look good!!

  • Lorenzo

    We will be forever grateful for the efforts of the teachers, administrators, and leaders that have worked tirelessly educating our children for many years. I personally bellieve that God is able to do abundantly more than what we think or ask, and this situation is only a small opportunity for Him to show up and show out. The school doors will be back open before we know it and the school out of debt. Let’s begin to pray, seek God, work together and watch what happens. For we know that all things work togethe for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

    • Sylvia

      Save that for church not here as of today the school will be closing. And Rev Senator James T. Meeks needs to make his mind up if he is to be a minister or a politican so why don’t u pray bout that because he can’t handle both, and it seems like he is becoming more a politican than a minister.

    • iinoyfb2

      Hey, I’ll have one of whatever Lorenzo is drinking.

  • southside

    what is rev Meek’s salary to run the school?

    • Just another saying

      Now that is KEY!!!! He gets a salary from the STATE, he’s pimping the CHURCH and now we find he’s pimping the school too. My God!!!!

  • Sad Parent

    Bring back Ms Miller & all those great teachers that was let go. Meeks should have been more involved and there should have been more advertising. I trust that the school will reopen.

  • Tina

    Sorry honey he doesn’t have a jet know ur facts u are clearly not a member of the church

    • Angryparent

      And honestly I’m proud to be a member of another church.. I want a full time pastor not a partial working one.. Either you a pastor or you are working in Springfield.. He had too much on his plate and that’s why the school situation ended up the way it did.. Have a nice day “hunny “

  • Educator

    Meeks should be ashamed for the lack of respect and dignity for the staff, parents, and children. Yes, he should sell the jet his “poor” followers bought to support the school. Meeks is not a man of God. A servant of God do not steal, lie, and deceive. I hope the parents find a suitable school for their children.



      • Educator

        What happened REPO? Relax, actually who cares. We do KNOW the staff of Salem is out of work, parents are searching for a school, and children had to leave friends and great teachers.

  • A Proud & Informed Parent of SCA

    Respectfully, if any of you were in the meeting last night, Pastor Meeks did not blame the parents. Enrollment is down more than 50%. Tuition pays the bills. If there are no students, there is no tuition money coming in. If there is no tuition money, the bills won’t get paid. Pastor does not take a salary for being the CEO of SCA, nor does he take a salary for pastoring SBCOC. His only payment is what Salem members place in the red Love Offering envelopes. And no, Pastor does not own a jet. He did not accept the jet that was offered to him. Like crabs in a barrel, many of you are trying to drag down a man who has dared to attempt to swim to the top, and had the nerve to try to bring some of us with him. Pour some more salt in that Haterade. It’ll never quench your thirst. God bless you all.

    • Cynthia

      He is also a politican, who let politics in his church and seems like he has become more of a politican than a minister. I’m just sayin.

    • God don't like ugly!

      You must me a brain washed member of his church!!! I was at the meeting! He made us wait almost thirty minutes until he arrived “remember “. Then he step in their with his arrogance presence and had no remorse… Get a back bone!!

    • The nerve of some pastors

      @ proud informed parent , you are a clown.. You are apart of his colt.. If you was a real Christian you would know to praise God not “man”. If he knew his school was going down almost 5 years ago he should have promoted it more .. I’m sure the parents would not have a problem with getting out on the street and helping out with fundraising !

    • Educator

      God doesn’t do evil. Read your Bible. If a person must answer “God told me….” “God will….” that’s bologna and an excuse for I am a JERK!

  • gibson

    Oh not only does he get a state salary, he gets a state pension. People wake up don’t vote for him again. Remember he was gonna run for mayor. Remember he doesn’t even live in Chicago. He lives in South Holland. Remember he also has the House of Hope. Non-profit preacher crook. Please people don’t vote him in again. In the past he blasted the mayor, governor about the school system – and now his own school he just dismisses everyone weeks before the school year.

    • nicholas

      where he lives has nothing to do with the school closing.

  • GO Southside

    One form of Trickle Up Poverty:
    “We tried to raise tuition and parents didn’t want to do that. We tried to ask them to raise more money for the schools, they didn’t want to do that,” Meeks said

    He has money we’ll have him to flip the bill

    • Mad Parent

      He is a liar!!! I am a parent and I paid $1200 last week and that was just in fees.

  • anonymous

    No one likes to hear bad news, but as said enrollment is down 50% and the school cannot support itself. This was not an easy decision for Rev. Meeks to make, or for any leader when their must be cuts and shutdowns. Thank God for 21 yrs of SCA. I pray that once emotions are settled, the voice of God will clearly be heard on the issue. Pray for the staff, students and parents and Rev. Meeks, and remember God is still in control!

  • 8th Grader Mz.2012rundis

    As i am disappointed my school has closed. I’m positive it will reopen for others in the future. I just wish I would be able to have the opportunity of being able to be a student there, but going into the 8th grade it’s time to movie on. “You don’t know what you have ’til it’s gone” Rev. Meeks would not have closed the school if he didn’t have to because of the work and hard effort he put into trying to open it in the first place. I love you Salem Christian Academy and you will never leave my heart<3!

    • billyd

      Good luck to you in the ninth grade and beyond. You sound like a good kid – stick to it and you’ll do well!


    If he wanted to keep the school open, he could have promoted the school to his many members and the community. Many parents said they raised the tution last year. I always knew he was a pimping preacher that likes to grandstand. Paula made a statement about the principal. Many principals are just like what Paula described. Snobbish and sh@@ starters. PARENTS, BEGIN LOOKING FOR A GOOD SCHOOL TO PLACE YOUR CHILD IN. THERE MAY BE SOME PRIVATE OR RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS THAT STILL HAVE OPENINGS.
    WHAT EVER YOU DO PARENTS, DON’T, I REPEAT DON’T PLACE YOUrR CHILD IN A NEIGHBORHOOD CHiCAGO PUBLIC SCHOOL. The curriculoum is poor, some of the children like to fight, the classrooms are over crowded, their is a lack of technology and their METHODS OF TEACHING LEAVES A LOT TO BE DESIRED. A child’s learning enviroment is important. DON’T PLACE YOUR CHILD IN A CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOL IF YOU VAULE EDUCATION.

  • Grandmother

    Let’s put alllllll the facts on the table. He had the free government funded luch program. He cancelled it after one month. Rev. Meeks had the child care program and cancelled it. He didn;t tell the parents that the school was closing. Was he afraid that the parents would write grants to keep it open? He kept the school financial problems to himself. It was a done deal when he called the meeting. School is closing.

    I smell a rat….it smell like get …those students out of the building…I can profit from a charter school in one year. with new students and new staff. Even at the meeting he said the school is closing this school year….. . It takes one year to be aproved for a charter school. Even STEVIE WONDER can see the writing on the wall. Rev. Meeks will profit from this!!!!!!!!!!!

  • A real SCA supporter and member

    Try someone else. He is a walking contradiction. I remember him saying that NO POLITICIANS WILL EVER SPEAK FROM HIS PULPIT. Thats a lie. Hew doesn’t take a salary for being a Pastor is also a lie. Just like the lie that was told that he wouldn’t be running the church if he became mayor. The quality of teaching and the mission of Jesus has been replaced by a little man who wants to be King or God. Unfortunately most of the members have turned into rats following the pied piper and only know and believe what comes from the pulpit. Then one of his Lackeys had the nerve to ask the membership to give $100 for Meeks’ birthday. SAD SAD SAD !!!!!!! May God help us All.

  • Anonymous1

    I’m a parent of 3 kids that attended SCA. My family doesn’t belong to HOH. SCA was a great school that gave a great foundation to my kids academically and biblically. I fall in the category of any of the parents who are yet to find a better placement for their children. So I empathize with everyone affected with the situation at SCA. Folks, what matters the most here is what an individual does with a given situation. As a people we are good at putting blame, much more than encouraging one another. Rev. Meeks is just an imperfect man, leading an imperfect people, in an imperfect world. Just like he admitted in the teacher/parent meeting on Monday nite. Now either we accept the situation for what it s and move on or we play the blaming game. Those of the Spirit will understand things Spiritually, and those not of the Spirit will ever do. Therefore those of us who understand, we need to pray for Rev. Meeks and his family, the SCA stuff and their families! The SCA parents and their families, not to forget our communities. If you can’t pray, then just move on to whatever is best for you. After all it’s all in God’s hands, whether you believe it or not….doesn’t really matter.

  • Derrick Williams, Jr. SCA class of 99

    If it wasn’t for SCA, I would have been another statistic before I even went to high school. Much love to Ms. McKinley, Mr. Crenshaw, Ms. Crenshaw, Coach Jackson (RIP), Mrs. Ollie McLemore, all of the teachers and my good friends that helped me become the man I am today. LONG LIVE SCA! BLAZERS 4 LIFE!!

  • Nicholas Miller-Chatman

    I attended Salem christain academy when i was three years old also from N-3 to 7th grade. I never thought that it would be closed. There are teachers there who taught me my ABC’s losing their job. But, to reflect on what the young lady said: yes public school is different and i do know but their are teachers there who care about a students learning and safety. So if she does attend public school someone please tell her that what she is thinking about public school is not at all true

  • basketball teammates

    It is really amazing. Congress for your nice post. Please post more articles.

  • Casey Thomas

    It will be a charter school and all that taxpayer money by next year.

  • mike420

    this school was remarkably crazy anyway… as a hard working parent , i wasted money on an education that involved unimportant values, which made me highly upset. i removed my child from this school with a feeling of accomplishment. good riddance.

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