Charter school considers a new building

Officials at Townsend Community School are eyeing a possible building project in the near future.
Alissa Widman Neese
Oct 22, 2013
The local charter school, which Margaretta Schools sponsors, recently contracted with local architect Scott Mularoni to explore its options.

One of the most feasible proposals: constructing a new standalone Townsend Community School building next to Margaretta High School, so students at both facilities could share services.

“We’re running out of space to house our students,” Townsend Community School director Pete Bartkowiak said at Monday’s Margaretta school board meeting. “We contracted with an architect to get our thoughts down on paper, figure out what our best option is and hopefully move forward.”

Townsend Community School opened in 2011 as north-central Ohio’s first charter school.    Its enrollment fluctuates daily, but these days typically hovers around 425 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.

Bartkowiak and board members stressed Monday that the charter school’s new building plan is still in its initial stages and no construction has been approved.

Mularoni will likely provide his findings within 60 days, said Mark Bodey, a Margaretta school board and facilities committee member.

Representatives from Margaretta Schools and Townsend Community School met at a facilities committee meeting Oct. 9 to share ideas. The charter school’s board members agreed to pursue a feasibility study with Mularoni on Oct. 10.

The contract with Mularoni cost the charter school about $24,000. Its annual budget fluctuates with its student count, but is typically about $2 million a year.

At a meeting this past month, Margaretta school board members agreed the district could not fund a facilities project on its own in the near future, given the looming annual budget deficits.

A Townsend Community School project, however, would be funded strictly through the charter school’s budget and would not cost Margaretta Schools anything, treasurer Jude Hammond said.

“One of the reasons we initially decided to partner with a charter school was because of opportunities like this, in addition to the service it provides the community,” Hammond said.

Any Townsend Community School construction must occur within its sponsoring district, he said.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Bartkowiak said Townsend Community School received a youth award from the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties.

The board will honor the charter school’s staff, among other award winners, at a dinner Wednesday at Mon Ami Restaurant & Winery in Catawba Island Township.