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Charter school building plans progress

Alissa Widman Neese • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Pete Bartkowiak, the school’s director, briefed Margaretta school board members on the progress of construction plans Monday.

Some aspects of the project currently being considered include:

• A one- or two-story building, between 12,000 and 15,000 square feet, to be located near Margaretta High School and facilitate up to 600 students.

• A college-style “common area” in the building’s center, with small classrooms surrounding it for individualized instruction with teachers.

• A large computer lab equipped with enough devices for Townsend Community School and Margaretta Schools students to complete state-mandated online testing.

“We’re still in the planning stages,” Bartkowiak said Wednesday. “Our goal is to bring everything to the board by February to take the next step, and hopefully get building as soon as possible”

Margaretta Schools sponsors Townsend Community School, which debuted in 2011 as north-central Ohio’s first charter school.

Its enrollment fluctuates daily, but these days typically hovers around 450 students. They’re housed at various times in annex buildings near Margaretta High School and the old Townsend School building, where they complete work at their own pace in a nontraditional school setting.

As enrollment continues to increase each year, Townsend Community School is simply running out of space to house its students, Bartkowiak said.

Students come and go during the school day and typically complete work independently, utilizing classrooms when they next extra, one-on-one help with a teacher.    “This isn’t going to look like your traditional school, because many of our students didn’t have a good experience in that setting,” Bartkowiak said. “Our goal with this new facility, as with anything when you build new, is to ‘build it and they will come.’ We want this to have a college student union feeling to it”

Townsend Community School contracted with local architect Scott Mularoni this year to explore its construction options. The contract cost about $24,000. The school’s budget is typically about $2 million per year.

Any future building construction would require approval from both Margaretta and Townsend school board members. It must occur within the sponsoring district, with Townsend Community School covering all costs.

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