DOYLINE — A church will move into a vacant school building in Doyline thanks to an agreement reached with the Webster Parish School Board.
The board agreed to a request from Zion Hill Baptist Church to use the former Union Elementary School site. The church will be responsible for upkeep and utilities, but no rent will be charged.
Zion Hill was one of two groups seeking use of the property. Rural Communities Empowerment Coalition Inc. also made a pitch.
“We listened to both groups but the board was unanimous for Zion Hill,” Superintendent Steve Dozier said.
The Rev. Richard Jefferson, church pastor, first asked for the building in December 2010 when the School Board began discussions about possibly closing the school during budget cuts. Jefferson put the request in writing earlier this year.
Zion Hill plans to develop the property into a community center. The church wants to create an after-school tutoring program for children in grades kindergarten through 12.
An adult education program also is under consideration.
Jefferson said the church will develop a community basketball league and offer exercise classes and weight training.
Programs to help the elderly and disabled may be created and a community garden will be planted at the site, Jefferson said.