Officials contend the new neighbor would offer the high school plenty of perks, including an electricity upgrade, flexible learning spaces and an arsenal of new computers.
The likely selling point: Townsend Community School will foot the entire bill.
If board members from both schools approve the plan, construction could begin as early as this summer, Townsend Community School director Pete Bartkowiak said at a Wednesday meeting.
He unveiled the project’s floor plans for the standalone, two-story building for the first time, fielding questions from community members who generally seemed to support the idea.
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The anticipated building doesn’t deviate much from Bartkowiak’s initial speculations, and its features include:
•Location behind Margaretta High School, near its existing agricultural and athletic buildings, bordering the parking lot.
•15,000 square feet of floor space, with room for expansion, if necessary.
•A college-style “common area” in the building’s center, for independent learning.
•15 office-style classrooms for one-on-one help with instructors.
•A large computer lab equipped with 60 devices for both Townsend Community School and Margaretta Schools students to complete state-mandated online testing.
•Several administrative offices and conference rooms.
•Rewired electricity for both buildings, which would bring more power to the high school.
Officials are still waiting on project cost estimates, and should have them by the district’s April board meeting, Bartkowiak said. “After many meetings, we’ve centered in on this proposal because it’s what best for both schools,” he said. “And right now, this best fits the needs of our kids, too.”
Margaretta Schools sponsors Townsend Community School, which debuted in 2011 as northcentral Ohio’s first charter school.
Its enrollment fluctuates daily, but these days it’s hovering at about 500 students, mostly those targeted as “at-risk” to not graduate on time in a traditional school setting. Students ages 14 to 22 can enroll.
They’re housed at various times in annex buildings near Margaretta High School and the old Townsend School building, where they complete schoolwork at their own pace in a nontraditional way.
Students independently come and go during the school day, and they typically only use classrooms when they need a quiet place or extra, one-on-one help with a teacher.
“We want to create a friendly place for these students to come to, so we can nurture them,” Bartkowiak said. “They’re not bad kids, which is often a misconception of our school. A typical school building just doesn’t work for them”
Contracting with architect Scott Mularoni for the project cost Townsend Community School about $24,000. Its annual, fluctuating budget, typically about $2 million, is based on student enrollment.
The charter school receives about $5,700 in state funds for each student who enrolls, which otherwise would have funded the student’s home district. Margaretta Schools receives three percent of those funds as a sponsor district.